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ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Research Project #416450


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Project Number: 6250-51000-052-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 23, 2009
End Date: Mar 22, 2014

There is an ongoing need to enhance our understanding of the role of various nutrients on fetal, postnatal, and childhood growth and development. This is becoming increasingly important as studies continue to show an association between the patterns of growth during these early time periods and health later in life. At present, little is known about the functional need for different amino acids in support of these changes, and the variability in normal growth. The research objectives include: 1) define the nutritional and functional requirements of methionine, cysteine, and arginine for healthy children; 2) investigate the impact of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake from food and supplemental sources on blood levels, cognitive performance, and neurophysiological function, heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a lower incidence of allergies and upper respiratory infection in children; 3) investigate the pathways and nutritional modulation of methyl group production in underweight and normal weight pregnant women; 4) investigate differences in bowel flora, antioxidant capacity, and mitochondrial integrity between severely malnourished and well-nourished children; 5) conduct a pilot study of genetic susceptibility to edematous severe child malnutrition (ESCM); 6) conduct exploratory analyses of the relationship between risk of ESCM and individual genetic variation; 7) critically evaluate population-specific genetic variation in samples; 8) determine how obesity, ethnicity, and obesity-related liver disease contribute to low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels; 9) understand the relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and serum inflammatory cytokines, gastronintestinal permeability, and elevated liver transaminases; 10) characterize glucose and insulin tolerance, serum and liver lipids, and liver histology and gene expression; and 11) explore the molecular mechanisms for the lipotropic and anti-diabetic effects. This project will provide novel and new information directly useful to nutritional scientists, pediatricians, industry, and governmental agencies responsible for establishing pediatric dietary guidelines. These data will have global application and provide a strong basis for evidence-based development of nutritional recommendations for children and pregnant mothers.

The goal of our research is to obtain better data on amino acid nutritional and functional requirements for growth. Our researchers aim to determine if an intake of methionine and cysteine is more efficient to support glutathione synthesis rates in healthy children, than an equimolar intake of methionine alone. We will evaluate whether arginine supplementation in obese children improves insulin sensitivity and protein synthesis, and explore gluconeogenesis under these conditions. We will investigate the impact of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake from food and supplemental sources on blood levels, cognitive performance, and neurophysiological function of 4- to 12-year-old children. We will advance our understanding of the genetic determinants of risk of ESCM which will provide new insights into the causes of ESCM. Through our studies of Vitamin Din different ethnic groups of obese children, we will contribute to new insights into the actions of vitamin D and the pathogenesis of obesity related liver disease in children. Additionally we will identify novel dietary supplement strategies to prevent or treat obesity related chronic diseases by evaluating the lipotropic effect.