Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Healthy ageing begins in womb

08.03.2012
Maternal stress during pregnancy influences brain ageing and age-associated diseases such as dementia and stroke.
In this 3 million Euro EU-funded project, neurologists at the Jena University Hospital, together with molecular biologists, psychologists, physiologists, and epidemiologists from Europe and the USA are studying the effects of psychological stress, exposure to medication, and maternal undernutrition during pregnancy on brain ageing in later life. Detailed knowledge of factors influencing healthy life in the ageing society is a precondition for early preventive measures against age-associated diseases.

Ageing is a complex process involving physical, psychological, and environmental factors. Scientists believe that ageing can be programmed in the womb. One example of stress during pregnancy is the administration of glucocorticoids, i.e. synthetic stress hormones to accelerate fetal lung maturation in premature labor to allow breathing after birth. Could exposure to these stress hormones have an effect on health later in life?

„We know from previous studies that children whose mothers received glucocorticoids during pregnancy are less stress tolerant and have more concentration problems than their peers,” reported Professor Matthias Schwab, the Neurologist heading the project. „Stress signal regulation is permanently disturbed and appears to lead to early ageing, in particular, of the brain,“ he added.

The scientists examine several risk groups. One consists of 10-year-olds born at the University Hospital Jena whose mothers had treatment with glucocorticoids during pregnancy. Two other groups are being followed up by psychologists at the University of Leuven in Belgium and include two-year-olds and 25-year-olds whose mothers suffered from stress during pregnancy. „A unique group studied at the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam includes persons born in Holland during the Dutch „Hunger Winter“, of 1944/45,” reported Prof. Schwab.

Scientists involved in the project use state-of-the art neuropsychological, neurophysiological, and MRI methods to analyse and compare biological and real age of the brain. The biotechnology companies Life Length in Madrid and Biocrates in Innsbruck measure biological age in chromosomes and screen blood samples to determine metabolic blood markers of age. “Environmental factors such as exposure to stress hormones or malnutrition during pregnancy change the readout of genetic information permanently,” reported Matthias Platzer, Head of Genome Analysis at the Leibniz Institute for Age Research in Jena. „These epigenetic processes significantly change stress sensitivity for the rest of life,“ explained Prof Schwab. „Increased stress sensitivity makes one vulnerable to age-related diseases such as stroke and depression,“ he added.

In experimental studies, researchers aim to determine the period during pregnancy in which the brain is particularly vulnerable to stress. An important aspect of the research also involves studying a group of primates kept in Texas for possible translation of the findings to human subjects.

Understanding the biology of healthy ageing is desperately needed due to the worldwide ageing population and the economic costs of treating age-related diseases. „Environmental influences during life in the womb are early determinants for life-long good health and may be a target for preventive measures against early-ageing and age-related diseases, “explained Prof. Schwab.
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Matthias Schwab, Jena University Hospital
Tel.: 03641/9323486, E-Mail: Matthias.Schwab[at]med.uni-jena.de

Dr. Uta von der Gönna | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-jena.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Potential seen for tailoring treatment for acute myeloid leukemia
10.12.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht UC San Diego researchers develop sensors to detect and measure cancer's ability to spread
06.12.2018 | University of California - San Diego

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>