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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Microbiome and Metabolism Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #353384

Title: Maternal adiposity influences neonatal brain functional connectivity

Author
item SALZWEDEL, ANDREW - Ucla Medical Center
item GAO, WEI - Ucla Medical Center
item ANDRES, ALINE - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item Badger, Thomas
item GLASIER, CHARLES - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item RAMAKRISHNAIAH, RAGHU - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item ROWELL, AMY - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item OU, XIAWEI - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)

Submitted to: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/6/2018
Publication Date: 1/4/2019
Citation: Salzwedel, A., Gao, W., Andres, A., Badger, T.M., Glasier, C., Ramakrishnaiah, R., Rowell, A., Ou, X. 2019. Maternal adiposity influences neonatal brain functional connectivity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 12:514. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00514.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00514

Interpretive Summary: Recent studies have shown associations between maternal obesity and changes in neurodevelopment (in addition to the much higher likelihood of being obese) in children. We first reported differences in white matter (which transmits neural signals) and functional connectivity (a measure of how different brain cortical regions correlate with each other) in the prefrontal lobe of the brains of babies born to normal weight versus obese mothers. In this study, we performed a more systemic and thorough data analysis to look into functional connectivity from 230 seed regions in the brain, as well as "hubs" in the brain that show strong functional connectivity with other regions. It was discovered that there are significant group differences between babies born to normal weight or overweight/obese moms in all four functional domains that are known to be affected in obese adults. These functional domains included sensory processing, reward processing, cognitive control, and motor control, and are important in regulating eating behaviors. It remains to be determined if these early-life differences are persistent into childhood and beyond, and if so to ask if the brain differences contribute to behaviors that increase risk of childhood obesity. Our study indicates that brain function in offspring of obese women may have been programmed in utero.

Technical Abstract: The neural mechanisms associated with obesity have been extensively studied, but the impact of maternal obesity on fetal and neonatal brain development remains poorly understood. In this study of full-term neonates born from either normal weight or overweight/obese mothers, we aimed to detect potential neonatal functional connectivity alterations associated with maternal adiposity based on seed-based and graph theoretical analysis using resting-state fMRI data. Our results revealed significant neonatal functional connectivity alterations in all four functional domains that are implicated in adult obesity: sensory cue processing, reward processing, cognitive control, and motor control. Moreover, some of the detected areas showing regional functional connectivity alterations also showed global degree and efficiency differences. These findings provide important clues to the potential neural basis for cognitive and mental health development in offspring of obese mothers and may lead to the derivation of imaging-based biomarkers for the early identification of risks for timely intervention.