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Tuesday, 29 May 2018
For years, pregnant mothers have questioned their nutritional habits wondering does it effect the future health of their baby.
Science has now found evidence that nutrition directly effects the growth of her child. While many factors, such as the age of the mother, overall health and genetics ultimately play a role, the correlation between a mother's nutrition habits and metabolism has been proved to directly impact. Researchers at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, believe they may be one step closer to knowing why.
In a study published online in Nature Communications, the research team has demonstrated that two neurons key to growth and metabolism -- GHRH and AgRP -- are developmentally interconnected.
Located in the hypothalamus region of the brain, within a grouping of neurons known as the arcuate nucleus, GHRH, or growth hormone-release hormone, neurons orchestrate body growth and maturation. Meanwhile, AgRP, or Agouti-related peptide, neurons stimulate feeding and suppress energy usage.
To understand how these neurons are developed, the research team catalogued various proteins expressed in the arcuate nucleus and analysed their overall function.
They found that one specific protein called DLX1 is critical for GHRH neuron development. However, it also suppresses the development of the AgRP neuron. When DLX1 was removed from the test subject, the growth was stunted, yet it appeared obese.
Additionally, DLX1 was found to suppress the development of OTP-labelled cells that become AgRP neurons. This would suggest normal growth development, but limited blockage of energy use, resulting in a trim figure.
For the first time, these findings prove the intimate relationship between GHRH and AgRP neurons in developmental lineage. Further, the development of both neurons can be artificially pre-set in controlling postnatal growth.
The researchers now are working to determine if DLX1 may be controlled by diet. By testing both high-fat and low-protein -- or malnourished -- diets, they hope to identify how food impacts a baby's genetic makeup in the womb. This could scientifically support the idea that 'you are what your mother eats.'
1. Bora Lee, Janghyun Kim, Taekyeong An, Sangsoo Kim, Esha M. Patel, Jacob Raber, Soo-Kyung Lee, Seunghee Lee, Jae W. Lee. Dlx1/2 and Otp coordinate the production of hypothalamic GHRH- and AgRP-neurons. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04377-4