International Journal of Molecular Sciences
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Disruption of the in utero environment can have dire consequences on fetal growth and development. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a pathological condition by which the fetus deviates from its expected growth trajectory, resulting in low birth weight and impaired organ function. The developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) postulates that IUGR has lifelong consequences on offspring well-being, as human studies have established an inverse relationship between birth weight and long-term metabolic health. While these trends are apparent in epidemiological data, animal studies have been essential in defining the molecular mechanisms that contribute to this relationship. One such mechanism is cellular stress, a prominent underlying cause of the metabolic syndrome. As such, this review considers the role of oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and inflammation in the pathogenesis of metabolic disease in IUGR offspring. In addition, we summarize how uncontrolled cellular stress can lead to programmed cell death within the metabolic organs of IUGR offspring.