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Epigenetic changes in twins of dieting mothers increases risk of obesity and diabetes

Date:
April 1, 2012
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Expectant mothers might feel a little better about reaching for that pint of ice cream: New research suggests that twins, and babies of mothers who diet around the time of conception and in early pregnancy, may have an increased risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. This study provides exciting insights into how behavior can lead to epigenetic changes in offspring related to obesity and disease.

If you're expecting, this might make you feel a little better about reaching for that pint of ice cream: New research published online in the FASEB Journal suggests that twins, and babies of mothers who diet around the time of conception and in early pregnancy, may have an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes throughout their lives. This study provides exciting insights into how behavior can lead to epigenetic changes in offspring related to obesity and disease.

"This study may provide a new understanding of why twins can develop diabetes," said Anne White, Ph.D., study author from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester in Manchester, UK. "It also suggests that dieting around the time a baby is conceived may increase the chance of the child becoming obese later in life."

To make this discovery, White and colleagues conducted experiments involving sheep to investigate twin pregnancies and the effects of altering nutrition around the time of conception and early pregnancy. Specifically, scientists examined the brain tissue of fetal sheep before birth and found that there were changes in the genes that control food intake and glucose levels that may lead to obesity and diabetes. These findings are unique because the differences found in the genes are not inherited changes in the DNA sequence, but rather, epigenetic changes with alterations in the structure of the DNA and its associated proteins, histones, which affects the way that genes can behave in later life.

"This study shows that expecting mothers have to walk a really fine line when it comes to diet and nutrition," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. "It also shows that epigenetics is the 'new genetics': both our DNA and the histones in which it is wrapped are susceptible to binge eating and dieting -- we are what our mothers ate."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Begum, A. Stevens, E. B. Smith, K. Connor, J. R. G. Challis, F. Bloomfield, A. White. Epigenetic changes in fetal hypothalamic energy regulating pathways are associated with maternal undernutrition and twinning. The FASEB Journal, 2012; 26 (4): 1694 DOI: 10.1096/fj.11-198762

Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Epigenetic changes in twins of dieting mothers increases risk of obesity and diabetes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120401105501.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2012, April 1). Epigenetic changes in twins of dieting mothers increases risk of obesity and diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120401105501.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Epigenetic changes in twins of dieting mothers increases risk of obesity and diabetes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120401105501.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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