About this Research Topic
The environmental factors at various developmental stages (including fertilization and periods of embryonic, fetal, and infantile development) have been shown to be associated with the health of adults, as well as the pathophysiology of various non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These effects are mediated through epigenetic alterations, and thus are considered risk factors for a variety of health issues. According to the DOHaD theory, low birthweight presents an increased risk of developing various chronic NCDs, including metabolic syndrome. Various epidemiological studies have demonstrated the risk of developing various metabolic disorders in low birthweight infants. A possible mechanism for this is caused by a mismatch between small body size and the eutrophic environment.
Undernutrition in the fetal period maintains neurodevelopment for the survival of the fetus, while adapting postnatal nutritional deficiency results in trade-offs that change the structure and function of various organs or the metabolism and endocrine system. Due to such metabolic and endocrine system adaptations to the environment, the fetus acquires an energy-saving constitution called a "thrifty phenotype". The phenomenon, called fetal programming, suggests that when stimulated early in development, it can produce permanent psychosomatic changes that persist throughout life. This critical programming period is not limited to the intrauterine life, but is believed to extend through childhood, where various organs and systems continue to adapt to specific environmental stimuli. However, experimental scientific evidence for these hypotheses are still insufficient.
In this Research Topic, we will explore the latest research focused on investigating changes in the metabolic and endocrine systems that occur in low birthweight. We will highlight the important findings that have informed current studies aimed at exploring factors that underly the development of disease risks due to low birthweight. We welcome submissions of original research, reviews, and mini-review articles. We are especially interested in the following themes in this Research Topic:
• Overview of metabolic and endocrinological changes in low birthweight infants/offspring
• Application of the epigenome-based toolbox in the study of the low birthweight-induced NCDs landscape
• Diagnostic and therapeutic strategies (e.g biomarkers, nutrient supplementation)
• Advanced nutri-epigenomics techniques
Keywords: DOHaD (FOAD), thrifty phenotype, low birthweight, predisposition
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