Strategies to reduce non-communicable diseases in the offspring: negative and positive in utero programming.
Rodriguez-Caro H., Williams SA.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a major problem as they are the leading cause of death and represent a substantial economic cost. The 'Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Hypothesis' proposes that adverse stimuli at different life stages can increase the predisposition to these diseases. In fact, adverse in utero programming is a major origin of these diseases due to the high malleability of embryonic development. This review provides a comprehensive analysis of the scientific literature on in utero programming and NCDs highlighting potential medical strategies to prevent these diseases based upon this programming. We fully address the concept and mechanisms involved in this programming (anatomical disruptions, epigenetic modifications and microbiota alterations). We also examine the negative role of in utero programming on the increased predisposition of NCDs in the offspring, which introduces the passive medical approach that consists of avoiding adverse stimuli including an unhealthy diet and environmental chemicals. Finally, we extensively discuss active medical approaches that target the causes of NCDs and have the potential to significantly and rapidly reduce the incidence of NCDs. These approaches can be classified as direct in utero programming modifications and personalized lifestyle pregnancy programs; they could potentially provide transgenerational NCDs protection. Active strategies against NCDs constitute a promising tool for the reduction in NCDs.