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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Microbiome and Metabolism Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #309234

Research Project: Impact of Early Dietary Factors on Child Development and Health

Location: Microbiome and Metabolism Research Unit

Title: Maternal adiposity negatively influences infant brain white matter development

item OU, XIAWEI - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item THAKALI, KESHARI - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item SHANKAR, KARTIK - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item ANDRES, ALINE - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item Badger, Thomas - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)

Submitted to: Obesity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/21/2015
Publication Date: 5/1/2015
Citation: Ou, X., Thakali, K.M., Shankar, K., Andres, A., Badger, T.M. 2015. Maternal adiposity negatively influences infant brain white matter development. Obesity. 23(5):1047-1054.

Interpretive Summary: Since maternal obesity has been associated with many unfavorable effects on offspring, we wanted to see if there is a link between maternal obesity and infant brain (white matter) development. In our study, we used a type of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) method to measure brain white matter in 2-week-old infants from slim and obese mothers. The MRIs showed that infants from the obese mothers had lower white matter development than those born of slim mothers. Also, in DNA assessment, we found that the methylation of genes important in white matter development was associated with maternal obesity status. Our study provided direct evidence of maternal obesity affecting infant's brain, and this information can potentially make a significant impact towards achieving our goal of preventing childhood obesity and improving neurodevelopment.

Technical Abstract: Objective: To study potential effects of maternal body composition on central nervous system (CNS) development of newborn infants. Methods: Diffusion tensor imaging was used to evaluate brain white matter development in 2-week-old, full-term, appropriate for gestational age infants from uncomplicated pregnancies of normal-weight (BMI < 25 at conception) mothers or mothers with obesity (BMI  30 at conception) who were otherwise healthy. Tract-based spatial statistics analyses were used for voxel-wise group comparison of fractional anisotropy (FA), a sensitive measure of white matter integrity. DNA methylation analyses of umbilical cord tissue focused on genes known to be important in CNS development were also performed. Results: Newborns from women with obesity had significantly lower FA values in multiple white matter regions than those born of normal-weight mothers. Global and regional FA values negatively correlated (P < 0.05) with maternal fat mass percentage. Linear regression analysis followed by gene ontology (GO) enrichment showed that methylation status of 68 CpG sites representing 57 genes with GO terms related to CNS development was significantly associated with maternal adiposity status. Conclusions: These results suggest a negative association between maternal adiposity and white matter development in offspring.