An investigation, carried out by the interdisciplinary teams of the Incliva research institute, the CIBER and the universities of Valencia and Oviedo, concludes that the descendants of women who presented obesity or diabetes during pregnancy are predisposed to suffering from these diseases.
The study, published in Cardiovascular Diabetology, also indicates that the sons and daughters of these women are also at risk of developing cardiovascular problems derived from diabetes and obesity, not only during childhood and adolescence, but also in later stages, reports he Inclines.
The research has been carried out by pediatricians from the General Hospital of Valencia, which belongs to the Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition area of the Center for Network Biomedical Research (CIBEROBN), the University of Valencia and the Incliva Health Research Institute of Valencia, in collaboration with the Cancer Epigenetics and Nanomedicine Group (CINN-CSIC), the University of Oviedo and the Rare Diseases area of the CIBER (CIBERER).
As explained by Empar Lurbe, principal investigator of the CIBEROBN Group and the Research Group for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Risk in Children and Adolescents at Incliva, "pregnancy is a fundamental period in the life of human beings that actively affects the development of the offspring and their predisposition to the future appearance of cardiometabolic diseases".
"Disorders such as maternal obesity and gestational diabetes can condition the health of the offspring, from childhood to adulthood, increasing the risk of comorbidities that reduce quality and life expectancy," adds Lurbe.
In the opinion of Mario Fraga, from CIBERER, another of the coordinators of the study at the University of Oviedo, "maternal obesity during pregnancy can affect 30% of pregnant women, with the resulting repercussions for health systems and their policies of public health".
Fraga specifies that, "beyond the epidemiological evidence, the molecular causes responsible for these negative effects on the health of the offspring are unknown."
The study that has just been published describes epigenetic alterations in the offspring associated with the maternal metabolic condition during pregnancy.
These chemical modifications influence the regulation of genes and their alteration is behind the development of multiple diseases with great social impact, such as obesity.
To reach these conclusions, an analysis was performed in a pediatric cohort of boys and girls born to obese or obese mothers with gestational diabetes.
The follow-up that has been carried out throughout the first year of life of those born in the Pediatric Service of the General Hospital of Valencia has made it possible to clarify the molecular traces by which mothers are able to influence the genome of their offspring in a continued in time.
The research team explains that this study represents a new example of how the environment interacts with our genes.
In this case, the results indicate that the state of health and the metabolic condition of the pregnant mother can condition the state of health of the children in a persistent manner, which may have important implications for public health issues.
This work constitutes the first evidence that the intrauterine environment and, more specifically, obesity and gestational diabetes, are capable of persistently reprogramming the methylation patterns of offspring, beyond birth, adds Incliva.
The alterations involve genes that are part of regulatory pathways for fatty acid metabolism, cardiovascular signaling or mitochondrial bioenergetics, crucial processes in obesity and diabetes mellitus.
Being able to detect these alterations in peripheral blood, he adds, reinforces the idea that maternal metabolism has systemic effects on child development.