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Diabetes and Endocrinology - Immunology - Molecular Biology - Women's Health

Maternal Diet Modulates Placenta Growth and Gene Expression in a Mouse Model of Diabetic Pregnancy
Published: Monday, June 11, 2012
Author: Claudia Kappen et al.

by Claudia Kappen, Claudia Kruger, Jacalyn MacGowan, J. Michael Salbaum

Unfavorable maternal diet during pregnancy can predispose the offspring to diseases later in life, such as hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. However, the molecular basis for this phenomenon of “developmental programming” is poorly understood. We have recently shown that a diet nutritionally optimized for pregnancy can nevertheless be harmful in the context of diabetic pregnancy in the mouse, associated with a high incidence of neural tube defects and intrauterine growth restriction. We hypothesized that placental abnormalities may contribute to impaired fetal growth in these pregnancies, and therefore investigated the role of maternal diet in the placenta. LabDiet 5015 diet was associated with reduced placental growth, commencing at midgestation, when compared to pregnancies in which the diabetic dam was fed LabDiet 5001 maintenance chow. Furthermore, by quantitative RT-PCR we identify 34 genes whose expression in placenta at midgestation is modulated by diet, diabetes, or both, establishing biomarkers for gene-environment interactions in the placenta. These results implicate maternal diet as an important factor in pregnancy complications and suggest that the early phases of placenta development could be a critical time window for developmental origins of adult disease.