What is the evidence in humans that DNA methylation changes link events in utero and later life disease?

Rebecca M Reynolds, Greta H Jacobsen, Amanda J Drake
Clinical Endocrinology 2013, 78 (6): 814-22
Development in utero is now recognized as crucial to determining later life disease susceptibility. Whilst mechanisms are poorly understood, there has been considerable interest in the potential role of epigenetic processes in intra-uterine programming of disease. Epigenetic modifications include various mechanisms that influence chromatin structure and gene expression. Here, we review emerging data from human studies that altered DNA methylation links intra-uterine events with later life disease. Further research in this field is needed to determine whether altered DNA methylation in target tissues can be used as a biomarker for the early identification of and intervention in individuals most at risk of later life disease.

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