Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 Theme 5 Theme 6 Theme 7 Theme 8 Theme 9

Animal, Cell and Molecular Studies (Theme 3)
Theme Leader - Prof Michael Symonds

Theme 3 covered animal studies which were designed to determine the primary metabolic pathways by which altered maternal nutrition either during pregnancy or lactation, results in offspring being at increased risk of later disease.  These studies underpinned the findings from the clinical (Theme 1) and observational (Theme 2) themes. At the same time they generated new questions that are applicable to each of these themes.  By using a range of large and small animal models that are appropriate to each disease, Theme 3 not only defined specific mechanisms by which later disease is programmed but determined the precise nutritional conditions that contribute to these processes. The main objectives are outlined below:

  • To determine when are the critical windows during early development when maternal nutrition programmes one or more of the following chronic degenerative diseases; obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, renal disease, immune function and cancer.
  • To examine the effects of both macro and micronutrients on multiple organ systems and pathways that are implicated within each disease process.
  • To elucidate whether these outcomes are genotype dependent (e.g. by using transgenic models) or/and are reversible and can be overcome by later nutritional or pharmacological interventions.

Early Nutrition Programming Project at DOHaD

The project was well represented at the Third International Congress on the Developmental Origins of Adult Health and Disease (DOHaD) held in Toronto, Canada on 16-20th November 2005 with up to 20 delegates.  Its members gave a number of plenary and symposium communications together with a large number of original posters presentations. In addition, three members of the project (L Poston, S Ozanne and M Symonds) were elected to the Society's Governing Council amongst whom it was felt that stronger links between DOHaD and the EARNEST project should be forged.

Of particular interest at the meeting was the increased focus on:

  1. Programming of later obesity and whether appetite regulation or fat growth is the primary mechanism involved.
  2. The impact of diabetes in pregnancy and increased fetal nutrition.
  3. A greater emphasis on lactation as a major window of developmental plasticity with very different outcomes to those seen during maternal and/or fetal manipulations at conception and pregnancy.

Other points of interest included:

  1. The divergence in animal and epidemiological findings with regard to the early programming of cancer.
  2. The apparent increased emphasis of epigenetic mechanisms of DOHaD.
  3. The need for a much greater understanding of kidney development and how this can impact on hypertension.

Future developments in the area are likely to include:

  1. The role of individual or groups of nutrients with respect to fetal and/or postnatal programming.
  2. The control of postnatal growth and how this can lead to very different outcomes depending on the duration and composition of formula feeds.
  3. The need to translate current basic research into clinical practice and government policy and funding calls.

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