[GRG] NewAbs: Epigenetics during Pregnancy

To Members and Friends of the Los Angeles Gerontology
Research Group: 
Epigenetics during pregnancy… — Steve Coles

“Mother’s Diet Has Life-Long Effects
on Child’s Gene Function”

 
Source: © Milissenta – Fotolia.com

April 30, 2014; (Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News)
— The months before and after conception, and though early pregnancy,
are known to be critical. If mothers lack essential nutrients during this
time, infants may endure developmental challenges and suffer deficiencies
from which they never fully recover. Already, folic acid supplementation
is used during the periconceptual period to prevent defects in embryos.
Folic acid appears to have a role in a developing
embryo’s
epigenetics, which involve chemical changes to DNA. These changes
leave DNA’s base sequences unaltered, but they still influence gene
expression.
The
connection between maternal nutrition and epigenetic change has been
explored by researchers from
the
MRC International Nutrition Group,
the
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and
the
Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. They have found the first
evidence in humans that the “maternal biomarker status of substrates
and cofactors required for methyl-donor pathways, measured around the
time of conception, predicts the methylation patterns of metastable
epialleles.”Such
patterns reflect the tagging gene of gene regions with chemical compounds
called methyl groups. These changes, which can silence genes, occur in
the presence of nutrients such as folate; vitamins B2, B6, and B12;
choline; and methionine.The
researchers’ results appeared April 29th in Nature Communications,
in an article entitled “Maternal nutrition at conception
modulates
DNA methylation of human metastable epialleles.” In this article, the
authors note that the epigenetic influences of maternal diet were
previously established in studies with mice. The current study, however,
was able to extend these findings to humans because the researchers were
able to take advantage of a unique “experiment of nature” in rural
Gambia, where the population’s dependence on own-grown foods and a
markedly seasonal climate impose a large difference in people’s dietary
patterns between rainy and dry seasons.
Through a
selection process involving over 2,000 women, the researchers enrolled
pregnant women who conceived at the peak of the rainy season (84 women)
and the peak of the dry season (83 women). By measuring the
concentrations of nutrients in their blood, and later analyzing blood and
hair follicle samples from their [2 – 8]-month-old infants, they found
that a mother’s diet before conception had a significant effect on the
properties of her child’s DNA.The
researchers found that infants from rainy season conceptions had
consistently higher rates of methyl groups present in all six genes they
studied, and that these were linked to various nutrient levels in the
mother’s blood. Strong associations were found with two compounds in
particular (homocysteine and cysteine), and the mothers’ Body Mass Index
(BMI) had an additional influence. However, although these epigenetic
effects were observed, their functional consequences remain unknown.Andrew
Prentice, Ph.D., Professor of International Nutrition at the London
School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Head of the Nutrition Theme
at the MRC Unit, The Gambia, said: “Our ongoing research is
yielding strong indications that the methylation machinery can be
disrupted by nutrient deficiencies and that this can lead to disease. Our
ultimate goal is to define an optimal diet for mothers-to-be that would
prevent defects in the methylation process. Our research is pointing
toward the need for a cocktail of nutrients, which could come from the
diet or from supplements.”Rob
Waterland, Ph.D., of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who conducted
the epigenetic analyses said, “We selected these gene regions because our
earlier studies in mice had shown that establishment of DNA methylation
at metastable epialleles is particularly sensitive to maternal nutrition
in early pregnancy.”The
authors concluded, “Although the phenotypic consequences of these
variations in methylation are not yet known, the possible implications of
tissue-wide epigenetic variation at metastable epialleles induced by
subtle differences in maternal micronutrient status and BMI at the time
of conception are far reaching.”

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About Johnny Adams

My full-time commitment is to slow and ultimately reverse age related functional decline to increase healthy years of life. I’ve been active in this area since the 1970s, steadily building skills and accomplishments. I have a good basic understanding of the science of aging, and have many skills that complement those of scientists so they can focus on science to advance our shared mission. Broad experience Top skills: administration, management, information technology (data and programming), communications, writing, marketing, market research and analysis, public speaking, forging ethical win-win outcomes among stakeholders (i.e. high level "selling"). Knowledge in grant writing, fundraising, finance. Like most skilled professionals, I’m best described as a guy who defines an end point, then figures out how to get there. I enjoy the conception, design, execution and successful completion of a grand plan. Executive Director Gerontology Research Group (GRG). Manages Email discussion forum, web site, meetings and oversees supercentenarian (oldest humans, 110+ years) research. CEO / Executive Director Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation (Aging Intervention Foundation), an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.AgingIntervention.org Early contributor to Supercentenarian Research Foundation. Co-Founder Geroscience Healthspan Forum. Active contributor to numerous initiatives to increase healthy years of life. Co-authored book on conventional, practical methods available today to slow the processes of aging – nutrition, exercise, behavior modification and motivation, stress reduction, proper supplementation, damage caused by improper programs, risk reduction and others. Fundamental understanding of, and experience in the genomics of longevity (internship analyzing and curating longevity gene papers). Biological and technical includes information technology, software development and computer programming, bioinformatics and protein informatics, online education, training programs, regulatory, clinical trials software, medical devices (CAT scanners and related), hospital electrical equipment testing program. Interpersonal skills – good communication, honest, well liked, works well in teams or alone. Real world experience collaborating in interdisciplinary teams in fast paced organizations. Uses technology to advance our shared mission. Education: MBA 1985 University of Southern California -- Deans List, Albert Quon Community Service Award (for volunteering with the American Longevity Association and helping an elderly lady every other week), George S. May Scholarship, CA State Fellowship. BA psychology, psychobiology emphasis 1983 California State University Fullerton Physiological courses as well as core courses (developmental, abnormal etc). UCLA Psychobiology 1978, one brief but fast moving and fulfilling quarter. Main interest was the electrochemical basis of consciousness. Also seminars at the NeuroPsychiatric Institute. Other: Ongoing conferences, meetings and continuing education. Aging, computer software and information technology. Some molecular biology, biotech, bio and protein informatics, computer aided drug design, clinical medical devices, electronics, HIPAA, fundraising through the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals. Previous careers include: Marketing Increasing skill set and successes in virtually all phases, with valuable experience in locating people and companies with the greatest need and interest in a product or service, and sitting across the table with decision makers and working out agreements favorable to all. Information Technology: Management, data analysis and programming in commercial and clinical trials systems, and bioinformatics and protein informatics. As IT Director at Newport Beach, CA based technology organization Success Family of Continuing Education Companies, provided online software solutions for insurance and financial professionals in small to Fortune 500 size companies. We were successful with lean team organization (the slower moving competition was unable to create similar software systems). Medical devices: At Omnimedical in Paramount CA developed and managed quality assurance dept. and training depts. for engineers, physicians and technicians. Designed hospital equipment testing program for hospital services division. In my early 20’s I was a musician, and studied psychology and music. Interned with the intention of becoming a music therapist. These experiences helped develop valuable skills used today to advance our shared mission of creating aging solutions.
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