Application of Intima Media Thickness Measurement and Omics in Intrauterine Growth Restriction Disease

Donata Favretto, Erich Cosmi and Silvia Visentin

Intrauterine growth restriction is defined as a fetus with an estimated fetal weight less than 10th percentile for gestational age and cardiovascular changes, usually detected by means of Doppler ultrasonography. Noncommunicable diseases (such as cardiovascular diseases -CVD- and diabetes) still represent the main cause of mortality and morbidity in the industrialized world. Various studies support the hypothesis, formulated by Barker, that an adverse intrauterine environ-ment results in physiological adaptations of the fetus, maximizing its immediate chances for survival, but with detri-mental effects in adulthood. Low birth weight caused by IUGR was recently known to be associated with increased rates of CVD, non-insulin dependent diabetes in adult life, and neuromotor development alteration.
The ultrasound-based measurement of fetal aorta intima media thickness (aIMT) represents an easy marker to investigate the pre-atherosclerotic changes.
Omics research holds great promise for discoveries in nutrition research, including profiles and characteristics of dietary and body proteins; metabolism of nutrients; functions of nutrients and other dietary factors in growth, reproduction, and health. The proteome and metabolome analysis are expected to play an important role in understanding pathophysiological molecular mechanisms and in solving major nutrition-associated problems in humans, such as IUGR and cardiovascular disease.
This review focuses the importance to identify a class of fetuses at risk of cardiovascular disease in utero, childhood and adult life, combining clinical and omics markers. It should be interesting to combine functional and structural information discovered to develop preventative and/or interventional therapeutic strategies.