Epigenetic and Developmental Effects of In Utero Exposure to Environmental Toxicants
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Metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes are modern day epidemics. Early life exposure to an adverse developmental environment, including environmental toxins, are linked to increased susceptibility to obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Although the mechanisms underlying the fetal origins of metabolic disease are poorly understood, strong evidence suggests that alterations in the epigenome play a critical role in this process. The central hypothesis of this proposal is that intrauterine exposure to benzo[a]pyrene leads to epigenetic changes which will have functional consequences and may be a marker for, or may contribute to, increased susceptibility to adverse outcomes in childhood including increased adiposity and the subsequent development of obesity, metabolic syndrome or diabetes. The goals of this proposal are to: 1) determine benzo[a]pyrene levels in umbilical cord blood of newborns, 2) determine whether benzo[a]pyrene exposure during pregnancy correlates with early onset of obesity and metabolic disease by examining the children at 12 and 24 months of age, 3) determine whether in utero benzo[a]pyrene exposure programs metabolic disease through alterations in DNA methylation and gene expression, and 4) determine the plasticity of the DNA methylation patterns in the same offspring at 12 months of age. The long-term goal of this project is to define biomarkers that identify neonates at "high-risk" for diminished attainment of full health potential, who can then be targeted for preventative measures.
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Ages Eligible for Study:
up to 72 Hours (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:
Mother-baby pairs will be recruited.
Infants whose mothers were followed by the Obstetric Department at MMC, and
Deliver a single healthy live term infant
History of maternal smoking in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy,
Infants in extremis,
Apgar score <7 at 5 min and umbilical artery pH ≤7.25,