Prenatal stress and epigenetics

L Cao-Lei, S R de Rooij, S King, S G Matthews, G A S Metz, T J Roseboom, M Szyf

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


In utero exposure to environmental stress in both animals and humans could result in long-term epigenome alterations which further lead to consequences for adaptation and development in the offspring. Epigenetics, especially DNA methylation, is considered one of the most widely studied and well-characterized mechanisms involved in the long-lasting effects of in utero stress exposure. In this review, we outlined evidence from animal and human prenatal research supporting the view that prenatal stress could lead to lasting, broad and functionally organized signatures in DNA methylation which, in turn, could mediate exposure-phenotype associations. We also emphasized the advantage of using stressor from quasi-randomly assigned experiments. Furthermore, we discuss challenges that still need to be addressed in this field in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-210
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 May 2017


  • Journal Article
  • Review


Dive into the research topics of 'Prenatal stress and epigenetics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this