The period around the time of conception is one characterised by considerable cytological and molecular restructuring as ovulation occurs, the oocyte is fertilised and the embryonic developmental programme begins. The intrinsic processes regulating peri-conceptional progression are supplemented by environmental factors, which contribute important metabolic information that influences several aspects of the developmental programme. Indeed, there is growing evidence from different mammalian animal models, reviewed here, that the peri-conceptional environment mediated through maternal nutrition can modify development throughout gestation and affect the physiological and metabolic health of adult offspring. The concept that adult disease risk may owe its origin to the quality of peri-conceptional maternal nutrition is one, which merits further research for mechanistic understanding and devising preventive strategies.
- developmental programming