Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gender-specific disease risks start in the womb

07.05.2010
Disease risk in later life differs for women and men -- scientists at the Power of Programming Conference present evidence to demonstrate this may start in the womb

Pregnancy places competing demands on a mother's physiology: Her body wants to produce a strong healthy baby but not at the expense of her own health. Some of the genes that she passes on to her child therefore try to protect her own body from excessive demands from her child.

These so-called "imprinted genes" inherited from the father however do not show the same restraint – their goal is to get as many resources for the fetus as possible. Evidence that this battle of the imprinted genes might be at the root of later life disease processes will be presented at the International Conference The Power of Programming in Munich on 6 to 8 May, organised by the EC-funded Early Nutrition Programming Project (EARNEST).

"The imprinted genes derived from the father are greedy whilst those from the mother are conservative in their needs to ensure future reproductive success", said Dr. Miguel Constancia from the University of Cambridge, England. "We have found evidence that imprinted genes play important roles in the control of endocrine functions of the placenta. These placental adaptations have marked effects on nutrient delivery to the fetus, resulting in the programming of homeostatic mechanisms with metabolic consequences extending to adulthood, for example for type 2 diabetes susceptibility."

There is evidence that some programming effects are different in male and female offspring. Dr. Rachel Dakin from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, shows how maternal obesity is associated with sex-specific programming effects in young adult mice. Female offspring of obese mothers had raised blood insulin levels, whilst male offspring did not. Male offspring did have alterations in the expression of liver genes important in lipid and glucocorticoid metabolism.

Professor Claudine Junien from the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in France says: "For me a gene, a cell and even a sex does not think and has no intelligent design. Instead it reacts to diverse environments and situations according to what its build-up can afford, pushing in one direction or another (or several at a time). The limits to which it can go without going awry or dying have been established progressively throughout the slow and long process of evolution, with different genetic backgrounds throughout the world depending on the diversity of experiences over the ages.

We have data showing that gene expression and DNA methylation are sexually dimorphic in male and female placentae under normal/control conditions. Surprisingly, in stressful conditions, such as a high fat diet or low calorie diet, or maternal overweight/obesity - the male and female placentae do not use the same strategies: they use different gene pathways and networks to cope with the stress.

Does this directly lead to different outcomes? It may lead to sex-dependent differences in the outcome of programming with long lasting effects. Alternatively, it may be that metaphorically speaking males climb the mountain taking the north face while females take the south face - but they ultimately reach the same peak after using these different paths."

Professor Ricardo Closa Monasterolo from the University Rovira I Virgili of Tarragona, Italy, presents work that suggested that infant boys and girls might have different responses to lower or higher protein diets. Females given higher protein formula milk had higher IGF-1 levels than males, whilst males showed higher C-peptide/creatinine levels compared to females. The significance of lower or higher protein diets has also been examined in the EU Childhood Obesity Project (CHOP) co-ordinated by Professor Berthold Koletzko of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich. Starting in 1990, over 1,000 infants were followed. The first results show that, after 2 years, the infants fed a formula milk with a lower protein content – closer to the composition of breast milk - weighed significantly less than those on higher protein formula, with their weights being more similar to those of breast fed infants. These differences emerged by 6 months of age and persisted, even after the intervention ceased and the children went onto similar diets. The researchers predict that these low protein induced differences in early growth would reduce obesity at 14 to 16 years of age by 13%.

Koletzko, who is also the Co-ordinator of the EARNEST project said, "This is a new and exciting area of research which suggests that some of the differences in disease risk seen in men and women in later life might be explained by different responses to programming effects in early life."

Rhonda Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uni-muenchen.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>