Mechanisms by which Obesity in Pregnancy Leads to Obesity in Offspring

Summary

Principal Investigator: Rebecca A Simmons
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): An increasing number of studies in humans and rodents demonstrate that the abnormal intrauterine metabolic milieu associated with obesity in pregnancy can have long-lasting effects on the development of obesity and diabetes in offspring. Both human and animal studies show that maternal obesity significantly increases fetal and neonatal adiposity and that offspring of obese mothers have a very high risk of developing obesity in later life. We have found that offspring of female rats fed a cafeteria diet either prior to pregnancy, or prior to and during pregnancy have increased fat mass and insulin resistance at 2 weeks of age compared to offspring of dams fed ordinary rat chow (preliminary data). Fat mass is also increased in pups of rat chow fed dams that are cross-fostered to an obese dam. However, the increase in fat mass of cross-fostered pups is not as great as in pups that were exposed to maternal obesity during pregnancy, suggesting that prenatal exposures may be more important than postnatal exposure in programming obesity in the offspring. The mechanisms linking maternal obesity to the later development of obesity in the offspring are unknown. Maternal obesity results in increased plasma levels of saturated fatty acids and decreased levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). This abnormal fatty acid profile causes oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore, these findings and our previous studies lead us to hypothesize that in maternal obesity, oxidative stress induces epigenetic modifications of key adipogenic genes in the embryo thereby potentiating the adipocyte differentiation program by enhancing lineage commitment as well as terminal differentiation in the offspring. We will test these hypotheses by the following specific aims: Specific Aim 1: Determine whether the pre-implantation stage of development represents the critical window of susceptibility to the effects of maternal obesity. Specific Aim 2: Demonstrate that maternal obesity potentiates adipogenesis in the offspring. Specific Aim 3: Determine the mechanisms by which epigenetic modifications increase expression of adipogenic genes. Specific Aim 4: Demonstrate that oxidative stress causes obesity in the offspring of the obese dam. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Maternal obesity significantly increases fetal and neonatal adiposity and offspring of obese mothers have a very high risk of developing obesity in later life. This application will address the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon and determine if a diet enriched with antioxidants will prevent the development of obesity in the offspring. Since the incidence of obesity is rapidly increasing in the United States, these studies will have great impact on health.
Funding Period: 2010-03-01 - 2015-02-28
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. ncbi Epigenetics and maternal nutrition: nature v. nurture
    Rebecca Simmons
    Department of Pediatrics, Children s Hospital Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
    Proc Nutr Soc 70:73-81. 2011

Detail Information

Publications1

  1. ncbi Epigenetics and maternal nutrition: nature v. nurture
    Rebecca Simmons
    Department of Pediatrics, Children s Hospital Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
    Proc Nutr Soc 70:73-81. 2011
    ..The contributions of histone acetylation, histone methylation and DNA methylation to the process of adipogenesis in vivo remain to be evaluated...

Research Grants30

  1. The Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research
    MARJORIE K LEIMOMI MALA MAU; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..5) To prepare and empower our diverse Native and Pacific People communities to take ownership of their own health and wellness. ..
  2. Molecular Basis and Consequences of Early Developmental Epigenetic Programming
    David Serre; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..Our findings will provide a better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying the translation of intrauterine stress into life-long health consequences. ..
  3. Mechanisms of Health Effects of Exercise in Children
    Dan M Cooper; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..Collectively, the PPG will promote novel preventive and adjunctive exercise therapies in children with chronic inflammation- therapies grounded in a firm understanding of biological mechanisms. ..
  4. Neonatal Programming of Growth and Maturation in Rhesus Monkeys
    Andrew Muir; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..A nonhuman primate model of gestational overnutrition is a vital resource to explore the effects of weight on the health of mothers, children, and perhaps even subsequent generations. ..
  5. Mechanisms of Valproic Acid-Induced Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Defects
    Elizabeth M Powell; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ....
  6. Adiponectin and fetal programming
    Jianhua Shao; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ..These studies will reveal new pathways of fetal programming that will lead to new therapeutic approaches to stop the vicious cycle of maternal-offspring obesity. ..
  7. Functional Analysis of the Embryonic Epigenome in a Non-rodent Model
    Mark E Westhusin; Fiscal Year: 2013
    ....