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      Perinatal Nutrition and Hormone-Dependent Programming of Food Intake

      Hormone Research in Paediatrics

      S. Karger AG

      Perinatal programming, Prevention, Obesity, Neonatal overnutrition, Low birth weight

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          Abstract

          It is increasingly accepted that alterations of the intrauterine and early postnatal nutritional, metabolic and hormonal environment may predispose individuals to development of diseases in later life. Results from studies of the offspring of diabetic mothers strongly support this hypothesis. It has also been suggested that being light at birth leads to an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X) in later life (the Barker hypothesis). The pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie this programming are unclear. However, hormones are important environment-dependent organizers of the developing neuroendocrine-immune network, which regulates all the fundamental processes of life. Hormones can act as ‘endogenous functional teratogens’ when present in non-physiological concentrations, induced by alterations in the intrauterine or neonatal environment during critical periods of perinatal life. Perinatal hyperinsulinism is pathognomic in offspring of diabetic mothers. Early hyperinsulinism also occurs as a result of early postnatal overfeeding. In rats, endogenous hyperinsulinism, as well as peripheral or intrahypothalamic insulin treatment during perinatal development, may lead to ‘malprogramming’ of the neuroendocrine systems regulating body weight, food intake and metabolism. This results in an increased disposition to become obese and to develop diabetes throughout life. Similar malprogramming may occur due to perinatal hypercortisolism and hyperleptinism. With regard to ‘small baby syndrome’ and the thrifty phenotype hypothesis, we propose that early postnatal overfeeding of underweight newborns may substantially contribute to their long-term risk of obesity and diabetes. In summary, a complex malprogramming of the central regulation of body weight and metabolism may provide a general aetiopathogenetic concept, explaining perinatally acquired disposition to later disease and, thereby, opening a wide field for primary prevention.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Obesity in young men after famine exposure in utero and early infancy.

          In a historical cohort study of 300,000 19-year-old men exposed to the Dutch famine of 1944-45 and examined at military induction, we tested the hypothesis that prenatal and early postnatal nutrition determines subsequent obesity. Outcomes were opposite depending on the time of exposure. During the last trimester of pregnancy and the first months of life, exposure produced significantly lower obesity rates (P less than 0.005). This result is consistent with the inference that nutritional deprivation affected a critical period of development for adipose-tissue cellularity. During the first half of pregnancy, however, exposure resulted in significantly higher obesity rates (P less than 0.0005). This observation is consistent with the inference that nutritional deprivation affected the differentiation of hypothalamic centers regulating food intake and growth, and that subsequent increased food availability produced an accumulation of excess fat in an organism growing to its predetermined maximum size.
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            Intrauterine exposure to diabetes conveys risks for type 2 diabetes and obesity: a study of discordant sibships.

            Intrauterine exposure to diabetes is associated with an excess of diabetes and obesity in the offspring, but the effects of intrauterine exposure are confounded by genetic factors. To determine the role of the intrauterine diabetic environment per se, the prevalence of diabetes and the mean BMI were compared in siblings born before and after their mother was recognized as having diabetes. Nuclear families in which at least one sibling was born before and one after the mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were selected. Consequently, the siblings born before and after differed in their exposure to diabetes in utero. A total of 58 siblings from 19 families in which at least one sibling had diabetes were examined at similar ages (within 3 years). The risk of diabetes was significantly higher in siblings born after the mother developed diabetes than in those born before the mother's diagnosis of diabetes (odds ratio 3.7, P = 0.02). In 52 families, among 183 siblings without diabetes, the mean BMI was 2.6 kg/m2 higher in offspring of diabetic than in offspring of nondiabetic pregnancies (P = 0.003). In contrast, there were no significant differences in risk of diabetes or BMI between offspring born before and after the father was diagnosed with diabetes. Intrauterine exposure to diabetes per se conveys a high risk for the development of diabetes and obesity in offspring in excess of risk attributable to genetic factors alone.
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              Neonatal leptin treatment reverses developmental programming.

              An adverse prenatal environment may induce long-term metabolic consequences, in particular obesity and insulin resistance. Although the mechanisms are unclear, this programming has generally been considered an irreversible change in developmental trajectory. Adult offspring of rats subjected to undernutrition during pregnancy develop obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperleptinemia, especially in the presence of a high-fat diet. Reduced locomotor activity and hyperphagia contribute to the increased fat mass. Using this model of maternal undernutrition, we investigated the effects of neonatal leptin treatment on the metabolic phenotype of adult female offspring. Leptin treatment (rec-rat leptin, 2.5 microg/g.d, sc) from postnatal d 3-13 resulted in a transient slowing of neonatal weight gain, particularly in programmed offspring, and normalized caloric intake, locomotor activity, body weight, fat mass, and fasting plasma glucose, insulin, and leptin concentrations in programmed offspring in adult life in contrast to saline-treated offspring of undernourished mothers who developed all these features on a high-fat diet. Neonatal leptin had no demonstrable effects on the adult offspring of normally fed mothers. This study suggests that developmental metabolic programming is potentially reversible by an intervention late in the phase of developmental plasticity. The complete normalization of the programmed phenotype by neonatal leptin treatment implies that leptin has effects that reverse the prenatal adaptations resulting from relative fetal undernutrition.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                HRE
                Horm Res Paediatr
                10.1159/issn.1663-2818
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                978-3-8055-8117-2
                978-3-318-01345-0
                1663-2818
                1663-2826
                2006
                April 2006
                10 April 2006
                : 65
                : Suppl 3
                : 83-89
                Affiliations
                Clinic of Obstetrics, Charité-University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany
                Article
                91511 Horm Res 2006;65:83–89
                10.1159/000091511
                16612119
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, References: 33, Pages: 7
                Categories
                Fetal Nutrition and Postnatal Biology

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