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Biological Chemistry

Hormone Helps Obese Mice Give Birth To Slimmer Offspring

Medicine: Adiponectin supplementation reverses some adverse effects of maternal obesity

by Judith Lavelle
October 5, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 39

Studies show that obese pregnant women are more likely to give birth to overweight infants, who are in turn more likely to struggle with weight-related health problems later in life. Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus had previously found that mothers with low circulating levels of a hormone called adiponectin (ADN) showed signs of increased nutrient transport across the placenta, which can result in overweight fetuses. So Thomas Jansson, Irving L. M. H. Aye, and their Colorado colleagues wondered if supplementing ADN could lower fetal weight in mice. They infused recombinant ADN into the tissues of obese pregnant mice in the last four days of their pregnancies. Fetuses from untreated obese mice were about 27% heavier than the fetuses of treated mice and nonobese mice (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515484112). The supplementation effectively reversed the trend of increased placental nutrient transport seen in obese mice, Aye says. The authors write that strategies to increase maternal ADN levels may be useful as a means to prevent fetal overgrowth in people.


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