Early life insult from cigarette smoke may be predictive of chronic diseases later in life.Biomarkers 2009; 14 Suppl 1:97-101B
Evidence is rapidly accumulating that links cigarette smoke (CS) exposure in utero with the development of a variety of disease pathologies in the older offspring including, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain childhood cancers and respiratory disorders. The role that the fetal environment plays in these late-onset outcomes and the underlying cellular/molecular mechanisms by which these CS-induced effects may occur are currently unknown. Although we are becoming more aware of the fact that prenatal insult can underlie childhood/adult diseases, critical knowledge gaps still exist including gene-environment interactions, and how a CS-induced imbalance in immune dynamics (i.e. TH1/TH2) might affect asthma development and/or exacerbation later in life. In this mini-review we introduce the concept of sexual dimorphism in CS-induced late-onset disease outcomes, as well as explore the mechanisms by which CS exposure in utero can lead to cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory abnormalities in the exposed offspring. By addressing such questions using animal models, appropriate intervention strategies can be developed that will help to protect children's health and their long-term quality of life.