Pathophysiological basis for compromised health beyond generations: Role of maternal high-fat diet and low-grade chronic inflammation

Dan Zhou, Yuan Xiang Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Early exposure to a fat-enriched diet programs the developmental profile and thus is associated with disease susceptibility in subsequent generations. Chronic low-grade inflammation, resulting from maternal high-fat diet, is activated in the fetal environment and in many organs of offspring, including placenta, adipose, liver, vascular system and brain. The prevalence of an inflammatory response is highly associated with obesity incidence, cardiovascular diseases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and brain damage. Substantial studies using high-fat model have consistently demonstrated the incidence of such inflammatory reactions; however, the potential contribution of active inflammation toward the physiological outcomes and developmental diseases is neither discussed in depth nor systemically integrated. Therefore, we aim to summarize the current findings in regards to how a maternal high-fat diet influences the inflammatory status, and probable pathogenic effects on the offspring. More importantly, since limited research has been conducted to reveal the epigenetic regulation of these inflammatory markers by maternal high-fat diet, we sincerely hope that our review will not only outline the pathophysiological relevance of inflammation but also identify a future direction for mechanistic investigation and clinical application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Cytokines
  • Epigenetics
  • Inflammation
  • Maternal high fat (MHF)
  • Programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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