Periconceptional Developmental Programming

A new concept has emerged in recent years that a major cause of chronic disease in adult life derives from conditions of our own pregnancy before birth. Cardiovascular and metabolic disorders such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity may develop in later life from disturbances in our development during gestation due to either poor nutrition and growth restriction or following high fat diets and over-nutrition. Moreover, research on animal models has shown that the very earliest stages of development, around the time of conception, are particularly vulnerable to adverse environmental conditions affecting long-term health. This emerging subject demonstrates the importance of maternal physiology and nutrition around conception and has implications for the safety of assisted reproduction treatment (ART). Research on mechanisms implicates environmental effects on epigenetics and metabolic signalling as key causes of Periconceptional Developmental Programming (PDP).

The symposium will include plenary lectures by researchers investigating the causes and effects of PDP in both animal and human models and will devote a session to epigenetic mechanisms and their roles in differentiation of stem cells, development of gametes and embryos, and in the evolution of novel gene regulation.
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