Diet, Nutrition, and Fetal Programming: From the Womb to Adults
Undernutrition in utero, regardless of the source, can impair proper liver development leading to long-term metabolic dysfunction. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying how nutritional deficits during perinatal life lead to permanent alterations in hepatic gene expression will provide better therapeutic strategies to alleviate the undernourished liver in postnatal life. This chapter addresses the different experimental models of undernutrition in utero, and highlights the direct and indirect mechanisms involved leading to metabolic diseases in the liver. These include hypoxia, oxidative stress, epigenetic alterations, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. In addition, promising perinatal nutritional and pharmaceutical interventions are highlighted which illustrate how the placidity of the developing liver can be exploited to prevent the onset of long-term metabolic disease.