The Imperial College of London stated that there can be biological changes in women which can last a lifetime if they follow a poor diet during pregnancy. It conducted research to find evidence regarding the same.
The entire study showed that when pregnant mice were kept on a diet which was protein deficient, then it prohibited the production of genes inside the embryo which were important for healthy growth. The study is published in a journal called Cell Reports.
Scientists have been trying to find out for a long time that adversities such as very poor diet during early stages of life can have long lasting effects on our health. In the past there have several indications which suggest that the children which have been born during the times of famine have certain harmful health effects later in their life. This recent study offers a method to understand the effect of these problems and develop possible measures to counter these.
A number of scientist and researchers, at the Medical Research Council London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS), have been successful in developing various imaging techniques which helped them to detect the genes during the period when they were switched “on” and “off” in the various embryo of the mouse during their growth and development phases. This was very helpful in determining the exact point when the gene alterations started to happen in the embryo due to the change in maternal diet.
Using the various visualizing technique which were devised, the team found out that when the mouse carried a copy of any gene coming from its father, which was “silenced”, then its detection was not possible.When diet or drugs were used to re-activate the gene, gene glow was observed by the team. The researchers believed that this new method to detect whether the imprinted genes were active or silent would be helpful for many scientists who want to investigate epigenetic effects in human bodies.
One of the lead authors based at MRC LMS, Dr. Mathew Van de Pette said, “There are around 100 imprinted genes, about 0.4% of the total in the genome, and most appear to have their greatest impact during pregnancy. The pattern by which imprinted genes are ‘set’ in early life plays an important part in the development of healthy offspring. If a gene is ‘miss-set’ then problems may occur later.”
He added: “We found that mice fed a low protein diet in pregnancy produced offspring in which the father’s copy of the gene became active and stayed that way. This demonstrates a clear link between early life adversity and later life outcomes.”
Professor Amanda Fisher, who is the director of MRC LMS as well as the lead author of the study said, “We were surprised that this change in diet permanently affected the expression of this imprinted gene”
“Our work suggests there may be a window of vulnerability when diet can indeed have an effect, and that once these genes are set, they’re set for life,” Professor Fisher said. “The good news is that we’ve also shown that it’s possible to avoid this with a normal diet.”
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