Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


How genes link a mother's diet to the risk of obesity in her offspring


New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that epigenetic methylation blocks expression of the Pomc gene, leadings to delayed satiety response and increased food intake

Many research studies have made it clear that a mother's eating habits prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy and during lactation have a profound impact on her offspring and their propensity for developing weight problems, including obesity.

However, until now, the mechanisms behind this phenomenon were unclear. According to new research published in the September 2014 issue of The FASEB JournalF, scientists using an animal model found an epigenetic link between a mother's diet and an offspring's risk of future obesity.

This link hinges on the blocked expression of a gene called Pomc, which manages a discrete area of the brain that controls feeding behavior. Excess methylation on the DNA sequence blocks the ability to express this gene, leading to a late satiety response, increased food intake and eventually to obesity.

"Parental obesity and diet can affect the children's likelihood to overeat and develop obesity. Changes in epigenetic programming have been implicated as one of the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon," said Asaf Marco, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Faculty of Life Sciences at Bar Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel. "We observed a clear correspondence between a specific epigenetic mechanism and weight gain, potentially allowing for early detection and prevention of obesity."

To make this discovery, Marco and colleagues fed female rats either a high-fat diet or a standard diet from post-weaning to adulthood and in separate groups, throughout pregnancy and lactation. All offspring, including those of the high-fat treated rats, received standard food after weaning until adulthood. Blood was analyzed for hormone levels and brain sections for epigenetic modification on the specific DNA sequence of interest.

Results showed that unmated female rats, chronically fed a high-fat diet, presented obesity associated with disruptions in an epigenetic mechanism that controls the production of Pomc. However, due to the sharp weight loss during lactation, rats who consumed a high-fat diet presented normal weight and a normalized epigenetic mechanism.

Because methylation on the genes is typically considered stable and relatively permanent, this opens the door for future drug development. Researchers found that epigenetic malprogramming induced by maternal high-fat diet had a long-term effect on the offspring's vulnerability to develop obesity. These effects were not reprogrammed by providing standard food to the pups after weaning and the offspring maintained their obesogenic phenotype until adulthood.

"Shining light on heritable, epigenetic factors that cause obesity should help us shed unwanted pounds in future generations," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This research shows that being overweight and obese has a direct impact on the genes we use to signal when it's time to stop eating."


Receive monthly highlights from The FASEB Journal by e-mail. Sign up at The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is the world's most cited biology journal according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

FASEB is composed of 27 societies with more than 120,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Our mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Asaf Marco, Tatiana Kisliouk, Tzlil Tabachnik, Noam Meiri, and Aron Weller. Overweight and CpG methylation of the Pomc promoter in offspring of high-fat-diet-fed dams are not "reprogrammed" by regular chow diet in rats. FASEB J. September 2014 28:4148-4157; doi:10.1096/fj.14-255620 ;

Cody Mooneyhan | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Biology FASEB epigenetic genes high-fat mechanism methylation offspring pregnancy weight

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus
19.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one
19.03.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Development and Fast Analysis of 3D Printed HF Components

19.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one

19.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus

19.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>