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Genomic imprinting: sensing the environment and driving the fetal growth

Lambertini, Lucaa,b

Current Opinion in Pediatrics: April 2014 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 237–242
doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000072

Purpose of review Genomic imprinting is an epigenetically-driven phenomenon that responds to environmental stimuli to determine the fetal growth trajectory. This review aims at describing the transgenerational meaning of genomic imprinting while supporting the study of genomic imprinting in placenta for the determination of an important biomarker of chronic and developmental disorders in children as driven by the environment.

Recent findings Recent work has shown that genomic imprinting reaches beyond the basic significance of an epigenetic mark regulating gene expression. Genomic imprinting has been theorized as the main determinant of epigenetic inheritance. Concomitantly, new studies in the field of molecular epidemiology became available that tie the fetal growth trajectory to genomic imprinting in response to environmental stimuli, making of genomic imprinting the driving force of the fetal growth. When carried out in placenta, the effector of the intrauterine environment as conveyed by the maternal exposure to the general life environment, the study of genomic imprinting may reveal critical information on alterations of the fetal growth trajectory.

Summary The study of genomic imprinting profiles in placentas from birth cohorts of individuals exposed to different environmental stimuli can provide a new, much needed, tool for the elaboration of effective public health intervention plans for child health.

aDepartment of Preventive Medicine

bDepartment of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA

Correspondence to Luca Lambertini, PhD, Assistant Professor, Departments of Preventive Medicine and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, One Gustave L. Levi Place, Box 1057, New York, NY 10029, USA. Tel: +1 212 824 7076; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins