SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Supplements, Health & Nutrition - Europe US edition | APAC edition

News > Research

Read more breaking news

 

 

Maternal diet has key impact on baby’s muscles and long term health

Post a comment

By Nathan Gray+

15-Feb-2017

Maternal diet has key impact on baby’s muscles and long term health

A maternal diet that puts her growing baby under stress could result in weaker muscles and set her child up for greater risk of long-term health issues, say researchers.

The study, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, tested how stress signals from malnutrition – known as glucocorticoids – affect the growth of foetal muscles using a rat model.

The authors behind the work say the findings suggest that maternal malnutrition can cause increased stress signalling, and that this leads to compromised muscle development that cannot be reversed over time.

"It is important to know how muscles are affected in the foetus because we need muscles to breathe, to eat and swallow and to move," said senior researcher Dr Marta Fiorotto from the USDA/ Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital. "If those muscles are compromised in any way during foetal development, those functions are also likely to be compromised in the new-born baby and affect his or her growth."

While poor maternal diet has long been associated with low birth weight and long-term health risks, Fiorotto and her team aimed to test whether it is a lack of proper nutrition during pregnancy itself or associated exposure to glucocorticoids that affects foetal growth – and to find the specific physiological impact on muscle development.

They found that malnutrition leads to impaired development of foetal muscles – and that the blacked development could result in long-term health issues.

"Maternal stress, due to malnutrition or other causes that increase the exposure of her foetus to glucocorticoids, can significantly affect the growth of foetal muscles," said study co-author Dr Ganga Gokulakrishnan from Texas Children's Hospital.

Muscle development

"You can think of a muscle as a bundle of uncooked spaghetti; each spaghetti is a fibre - a single muscular cell - with many nuclei in a matrix of protein," explained Gokulakrishnan – who noted that the number of fibres in any muscle is already determined at birth and cannot be increased throughout life.

She added that after birth can only grow by either adding both more protein or more nuclei (known as satellite cells) to existing fibres.

Previous studies in rats have shown that exposing fetuses to glucocorticoids impairs muscle growth, and that this is due in part to reduced protein production.

In this study, the team examined the effect of glucocorticoids on the addition of nuclei to the fibers by satellite cells during early development.

"We were surprised at the magnitude of impairment we observed in the replication of satellite cells in the muscles of fetal rats exposed to glucocorticoids," said Gokulakrishnan. "Taking all the results together, we found that the effect of glucocorticoids on fetal muscle growth is quite complex; it depends on the duration, the level of glucocorticoids and the time during pregnancy when it occurs."

Foetal stress

The team reported that whenstress is mild, such as when the mother's food intake is around 85% of normal, protein deposition in muscles of the foetus is affected ‘quite remarkably.’ However, this mild restriction in food intake does not affect the accumulation of nuclei.

"However, our results from the current study indicate that treating rats with a dose of glucocorticoids that mimics more severe food restriction affects the reserve of satellite cells, the accumulation of nuclei in the fibres, and therefore, muscle growth," Gokulakrishnan revealed.

Fiorotto noted that because the developmental issues affect muscle stem cells, it is possible that these negative effects could have life-long consequences.

“This is another example that illustrates how the health of future generations starts with the health of the mother,” she said.

Source: Journal of Endocrinology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1530/JOE-16-0372
“Precocious glucocorticoid exposure reduces skeletal muscle satellite cells in the fetal rat”
Authors: G. Gokulakrishnan, et al

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

Promotional Features