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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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September 19, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts


A team of U.S. scientists show that reducing fat intake during pregnancy to a
moderate level is enough to benefit the child regardless of the mother's size.
Specifically, a protein - SIRT1 - rewrites a developing fetus' histone code,
which affects his or her "epigenetic likelihood" of being overweight
or obese throughout his or her lifetime.

WHO Child Growth Charts

       

Eating Well in Pregnancy Reduces Baby's Obesity Risk Regardless of Mom's Size

New research suggests that a protein called SIRT1 responds to excess fat calories in pregnancy by rewriting the histone code leading to infants with fatty-livers and eventual obesity

If you are overweight and pregnant, your baby isn't destined to a life of obesity after all, according to a new research report published online in The FASEB Journal.

In the report, a team of U.S. scientists show that modifying fat intake during pregnancy to a moderate level is enough to benefit the child regardless of the mother's size. Specifically, they found that a protein called "SIRT1" rewrites a developing fetus' histone code, which affects his or her "epigenetic likelihood" of being overweight or obese throughout his or her lifetime.

"We are finding that the cycle of obesity likely begins in the womb, however, we are also finding that obesity does not necessarily beget obesity," said Kjersti M. Aagaard, M.D., Ph.D., study author from the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.


"A diet laden with fat changes molecular machinery
which chemically modifies the structure
of the developing infant.

These commonly called 'histone code' changes
are rewritten-at least in part-by SIRT1,
which in turn, alters key regulators of fat
and glucose metabolism in the infant.

It is our hope that these early steps
will in turn break the cycle of obesity
in the generations to come."

Kjersti M. Aagaard, M.D., Ph.D


To make this discovery, Aagaard and colleagues used three groups of pregnant primates:

• The first group ate a healthy pregnancy diet (13 percent fat)
• The second group ate a high fat diet (35 percent fat). became obese
• The third group was fed a high fat diet for several years, became obese, and then was put on a healthy diet.

Researchers were then able to tease apart the effects on the infant of being exposed during pregnancy to a healthy diet versus an unhealthy high fat diet.

Sirtuins and proteins, and the genes regulating glucose and fat metabolism were then analyzed. Results suggested that the livers of infants exposed to the high fat diet showed less SIRT1 and less sirtuin activity than in the control group. However, infants exposed to a healthy pregnancy diet in both lean and obese groups had restored sirtuin.

To prove that SIRT1 was specifically chemically modifying the histone code, scientists also created a dead enzyme version.

Using high level mass spectrometry, they proved that while the live enzyme version of SIRT1 was very good at chemically modifying histone proteins (specifically "deacetylating" histone protein H3) the dead version was not. "What this study shows once again is that eating a healthy diet while pregnant holds true, regardless of your size or shape," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.


"Even if a woman isn't eating well before pregnancy,
adopting good eating habits during pregnancy
is still very good for the child and for her.

This new report shows how diet affects offspring
at the molecular level and points to new treatments
for overweight people who were not fortunate
enough to have mothers who ate
well during pregnancy."

Gerald Weissmann, M.D.
,Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal


Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.faseb.org/fjupdate.aspx. The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and is among the most cited biology journals worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information. In 2010, the journal was recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century. FASEB is composed of 26 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Celebrating 100 Years of Advancing the Life Sciences in 2012, FASEB is rededicating its efforts to advance health and well-being by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Melissa A. Suter, Aishe Chen, Marie S. Burdine, Mahua Choudhury, R. Alan Harris, Robert H. Lane, Jacob E. Friedman, Kevin L. Grove, Alan J. Tackett, and Kjersti M. Aagaard. A maternal high-fat diet modulates fetal SIRT1 histone and protein deacetylase activity in nonhuman primates. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.12-212878 ; http://www.fasebj.org/content/early/2012/09/13/fj.12-212878.abstract

Original article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-09/foas-ewd091712.php