In utero programming and early detection of cardiovascular disease in the offspring of mothers with obesity

Karolien Van De Maele, Roland Devlieger, Inge Gies

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific reviewpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The offspring of women with obesity during their pregnancy are exposed to an altered intra-uterine environment. A subsequent influence on the cardiovascular development during fetal life is assumed. In the present thematic review, we report on the current knowledge about this early development of cardiovascular disease from fetal life until adolescence. Based on animal studies, different contributing mechanisms have been hypothesized that still need confirmation in human subjects. Insulin resistance, increased levels of leptin, chronic inflammatory state, perturbation of sympathetic tone and epigenetic modifications contribute to a suboptimal nutrient environment and changed hemodynamics. The ensuing aberrant cardiomyocyte development, impaired endothelial cell relaxation and atherogenic lipid profile put these children at risk for the development of endothelial cell dysfunction. Increasing possibilities for early detection of this preliminary stage of atherosclerotic disease offer new insights into future prevention and treatment strategies. Future research should focus on further unraveling the effect of moderate intense, aerobic exercise. Since it is used to treat the condition in children and adolescents with good results, it might be a contributor to tackling endothelial cell dysfunction at its cradle when applied in early pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-195
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Cardiovascular programming
  • Endothelial cell function
  • Maternal obesity


Dive into the research topics of 'In utero programming and early detection of cardiovascular disease in the offspring of mothers with obesity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this