Environmental exposures at crucial points in development permanently alter sympathoadrenal function in mammals. The sympathetic innervation of peripheral tissues and the responsiveness of sympathetic nerves and adrenal medulla to standard stimuli are susceptible to modification by exposures in early life, such as environmental temperature, nutrition and stress. Because the sympathetic nervous system is composed of multiple, function-specific subunits, programming of sympathetic functions occurs on a regional rather than a global basis and can aid development of a phenotype adapted to the local environment. Under some circumstances, however, adaptations in early life might prove maladaptive in adulthood and, as a consequence, might provide a basis for developmental origins of pediatric and adult disease, such as sudden infant death syndrome and obesity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism