Early nutrition and ageing: can we intervene?

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Duque-Guimarães, D 

Ageing, a complex process that results in progressive decline in intrinsic physiological function leading to an increase in mortality rate, has been shown to be affected by early life nutrition. Accumulating data from animal and epidemiological studies indicate that exposure to a suboptimal nutritional environment during fetal life can have long-term effects on adult health. In this paper, we discuss the impact of early life nutrition on the development of age-associated diseases and life span. Special emphasis is given to studies that have investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects. These include permanent structural and cellular changes including epigenetics modifications, oxidative stress, DNA damage and telomere shortening. Potential strategies targeting these mechanisms, in order to prevent or alleviate the detrimental effects of suboptimal early nutrition on lifespan and age-related diseases, are also discussed. Although recent reports have already identified effective therapeutic interventions, such as antioxidant supplementation, further understanding of the extent and nature of how early nutrition influences the ageing process will enable the development of novel and more effective approaches to improve health and extend human lifespan in the future.

ageing, early nutrition, fetal programming, intervention, lifespan
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Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12012/4)
British Heart Foundation (None)
British Heart Foundation (None)
The British Heart Foundation (PG/14/20/30769), the São Paulo Research Foundation (2014/20380-5) and the Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12012/4) supported this work.