Novel insights, challenges and practical implications of DOHaD-omics research

Nicolette A Hodyl and Beverly Muhlhausler
Med J Aust 2016; 204 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/mja14.01626
Published online: 15 February 2016


  • Research investigating the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) has never had the technology to investigate physiology in such a data-rich capacity and at such a microlevel as it does now.

  • A symposium at the inaugural meeting of the DOHaD Society of Australia and New Zealand outlined the advantages and challenges of using “-omics” technologies in DOHaD research.

  • DOHaD studies with -omics approaches to generate large, rich datasets were discussed.

  • We discuss implications for policy and practice and make recommendations to facilitate successful translation of results of future DOHaD-omics studies.

  • 1 Robinson Research Institute, The University of Adelaide, and Neonatal Medicine, Women’s and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, SA
  • 2 FOODplus Research Centre, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA


This article was written on behalf of, and partially based on discussions held by, members of the Mechanisms and Pathways and Laying the Foundations for Effecting Change panels at the 2014 ANZ DOHaD meeting. Nicolette Hodyl is supported by an MS McLeod Research Fellowship, and Beverly Muhlhausler is supported by a Career Development Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC).

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Hanson MA, Gluckman PD. Early developmental conditioning of later health and disease: physiology or pathophysiology? Physiol Rev 2014; 94: 1027-1076.
  • 2. Vickers MH. Developmental programming and transgenerational transmission of obesity. Ann Nutr Metab 2014; 64 Suppl 1: 26-34.
  • 3. Aiken CE, Ozanne SE. Transgenerational developmental programming. Human Reprod Update 2014; 20: 63-75.
  • 4. Fullston T, Ohlsson Teague EM, Palmer NO, et al. Paternal obesity initiates metabolic disturbances in two generations of mice with incomplete penetrance to the F2 generation and alters the transcriptional profile of testis and sperm microRNA content. FASEB J 2013; 27: 4226-4243.
  • 5. Pembrey ME, Bygren LO, Kaati G, et al. Sex-specific, male-line transgenerational responses in humans. Eur J Hum Genet 2006; 14: 159-166.
  • 6. Oberlander TF, Weinberg J, Papsdorf M, et al. Prenatal exposure to maternal depression, neonatal methylation of human glucocorticoid receptor gene (NR3C1) and infant cortisol stress responses. Epigenetics 2008; 3: 97-106.
  • 7. McGowan PO, Sasaki A, D’Alessio AC, et al. Epigenetic regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor in human brain associates with childhood abuse. Nat Neurosci 2009; 12: 342-348.
  • 8. Radtke KM, Schauer M, Gunter HM, et al. Epigenetic modifications of the glucocorticoid receptor gene are associated with the vulnerability to psychopathology in childhood maltreatment. Transl Psychiatry 2015; 5: e571.
  • 9. Meaney MJ, Szyf M, Seckl JR. Epigenetic mechanisms of perinatal programming of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function and health. Trends Mol Med 2007; 13: 269-277.
  • 10. Murgatroyd C, Quinn JP, Sharp HM, et al. Effects of prenatal and postnatal depression, and maternal stroking, at the glucocorticoid receptor gene. Transl Psychiatry 2015; 5: e560.
  • 11. Schokker D, Zhang J, Zhang LL, et al. Early-life environmental variation affects intestinal microbiota and immune development in new-born piglets. PLoS One 2014; 9: e100040.
  • 12. Stewart CJ, Marrs EC, Nelson A, et al. Development of the preterm gut microbiome in twins at risk of necrotising enterocolitis and sepsis. PLoS One 2013; 8: e73465.
  • 13. Ley RE, Backhed F, Turnbaugh P, et al. Obesity alters gut microbial ecology. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2005; 102: 11070-11075.
  • 14. Biedermann L, Zeitz J, Mwinyi J, et al. Smoking cessation induces profound changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota in humans. PLoS One 2013; 8: e59260.
  • 15. Jakobsson HE, Abrahamsson TR, Jenmalm MC, et al. Decreased gut microbiota diversity, delayed Bacteroidetes colonisation and reduced Th1 responses in infants delivered by caesarean section. Gut 2014; 63: 559-566.
  • 16. Alenghat T. Epigenomics and the microbiota. Toxicol Pathol 2015; 43: 101-106.
  • 17. Holmes E, Loo RL, Stamler J, et al. Human metabolic phenotype diversity and its association with diet and blood pressure. Nature 2008; 453: 396-400.
  • 18. Sulek K, Han TL, Villas-Boas SG, et al. Hair metabolomics: identification of fetal compromise provides proof of concept for biomarker discovery. Theranostics 2014; 4: 953-959.
  • 19. Zhang A, Sun H, Wang P, et al. Modern analytical techniques in metabolomics analysis. The Analyst 2012; 137: 293-300.
  • 20. Cabaton NJ, Canlet C, Wadia PR, et al. Effects of low doses of bisphenol A on the metabolome of perinatally exposed CD-1 mice. Environ Health Perspect 2013; 121: 586-593.
  • 21. Clark RH, Kelleher AS, Chace DH, Spitzer AR. Gestational age and age at sampling influence metabolic profiles in premature infants. Pediatrics 2014; 134: e37-e46.
  • 22. Oladipo OO, Weindel AL, Saunders AN, Dietzen DJ. Impact of premature birth and critical illness on neonatal range of plasma amino acid concentrations determined by LC-MS/MS. Mol Genet Metabol 2011; 104: 476-479.
  • 23. Navaratnam K, Alfirevic Z, Baker PN, et al. A multi-centre phase IIa clinical study of predictive testing for preeclampsia: improved pregnancy outcomes via early detection (IMPROvED). BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2013; 13: 226.
  • 24. Martino D, Loke YJ, Gordon L, et al. Longitudinal, genome-scale analysis of DNA methylation in twins from birth to 18 months of age reveals rapid epigenetic change in early life and pair-specific effects of discordance. Genome Biol 2013; 14: R42.
  • 25. Helman A. Nutrition and general practice: an Australian perspective. Am J Clin Nutr 1997; 65(6 Suppl): 1939S-1942S.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.