ISSN 10623604, Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, 2015, Vol. 46, No. 5, pp. 237–245. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2015.
Published in Russian in Ontogenez, 2015, Vol. 46, No. 5, pp. 285–294.
The paradigm of developmental origins of health
and disease (DOHaD) began to emerge at the end of
last century, principally due to the works of English
epidemiologist David Barker and his colleagues (God
frey and Barker, 2001). These and other authors have
shown that lower infant birth weight related to, e.g.,
maternal undernutrition during pregnancy, corre
sponds to higher risk of a number of chronic diseases:
arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, etc., already
in mature age and in senescence. Somewhat later,
more close to the beginning of current century it was
shown, principally on experimental models of labora
tory animals, that glucocorticoid administration dur
ing gestation resulted in similar pathophysiological
disturbances in the offspring: increased blood pres
sure, tendency to insulin resistance, etc. (Langley
Evans, 2006; Harris and Seckl, 2011). These data were
interpreted by employing the concept of program
ming/imprinting, when the impact of certain factor
during critical period of ontogeny provokes longterm
consequences observed already in adult state and even
later (Gluckman et al., 2010).
However, glucocorticoids are involved in complex
hormonal regulation, therefore it is quite important to
determine, which hormones may interact with gluco
corticoids during critical periods of ontogeny. In the
present work a review of world literature evidence was
performed, as referred to the role of melatonin, as well
as neuroactive steroids, somatolactogens and related
peptides in perinatal and early postnatal development,
The article was translated by the authors.
in order to reveal their probable potential in program
ming / imprinting phenomena.
MELATONIN AND NEUROACTIVE STEROIDS
First of all, it should be noted that data on broader
distribution and greater abundance of melatonin
receptors during early development, relative to adult
animals, allow to suggest that developmental effects of
melatonin are greater and more diverse (Davis, 1997).
In fact, being amphiphilic compound, melatonin rap
idly crosses the placenta, and fetal melatonin appears
to be of maternal origin. Moreover, prenatal maternal
entrainment of circadian biorhythms seems to occur
in all of the mammals in which it has been examined.
On the other hand, melatonin is excreted in maternal
milk, and it may act, at least, on gastrointestinal tract
in newborns (Valtonen et al., 2003).
What for maturation of pineal melatonin produc
tion in early life, it seems to proceed during the first 3
postnatal weeks in rats (Oxenkrug et al., 2000) and
along the first 1–3 years in humans. During all the
human childhood nocturnal melatonin peak levels
drop progressively by 80% until adult levels are
reached. This alteration appears to be the conse
quence of increasing body size in face of constant
melatonin production during childhood (Waldhauser
et al., 1993).
There are various studies described in the literature
confirming important role of melatonin in perinatal
development. In our previous work pituitary cells of
neonatal rats were more sensitive to inhibitory action
of melatonin on DNA biosynthesis, as compared to
Role of Hormones in Perinatal and Early Postnatal Development:
Possible Contribution to Programming/Imprinting Phenomena
V. I. Goudochnikov
Council of International Society for DOHaD, Santa Maria—RS, Brazil
Received March 7, 2014; in final form, February 10, 2015
—In parallel to formulating the paradigm of developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD),
the search began on mechanisms of programming/imprinting in ontogeny. Some recent evidence has
revealed the important role of glucocorticoids in such mechanisms. However, in the last decades numerous
data have been accumulated on participation of other hormones in developmental bioregulation. In present
article we analyse these data, as referred to melatonin, but also to neuroactive steroids, somatolactogens and
related peptides: insulinlike growth factor of type I (IGFI) and oxytocin, i.e. peptide regulators related to
growth and lactation respectively. Special attention was devoted to the evidence of glucocorticoid interactions
with some of these hormones.
: melatonin, neuroactive steroids, somatolactogens, insulinlike growth factorI, oxytocin