Publications by authors named "James S M Cuffe"

39 Publications

The Placental Ferroxidase Zyklopen Is Not Essential for Iron Transport to the Fetus in Mice.

J Nutr 2021 Jun 10. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Molecular Nutrition Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Australia.

Background: The ferroxidase zyklopen (Zp) has been implicated in the placental transfer of iron to the fetus. However, the evidence for this is largely circumstantial.

Objectives: This study aimed to determine whether Zp is essential for placental iron transfer.

Methods: A model was established using 8- to 12-wk-old pregnant C57BL/6 mice on standard rodent chow in which Zp was knocked out in the fetus and fetal components of the placenta. Zp was also disrupted in the entire placenta using global Zp knockout mice. Inductively coupled plasma MS was used to measure total fetal iron, an indicator of the amount of iron transferred by the placenta to the fetus, at embryonic day 18.5 of gestation. Iron transporter expression in the placenta was measured by Western blotting, and the expression of Hamp1, the gene encoding the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin, was determined in fetal liver by real-time PCR.

Results: There was no change in the amount of iron transferred to the fetus when Zp was disrupted in either the fetal component of the placenta or the entire placenta. No compensatory changes in the expression of the iron transport proteins transferrin receptor 1 or ferroportin were observed, nor was there any change in fetal liver Hamp1 mRNA. Hephl1, the gene encoding Zp, was expressed mainly in the maternal decidua of the placenta and not in the nutrient-transporting syncytiotrophoblast. Disruption of Zp in the whole placenta resulted in a 26% increase in placental size (P < 0.01).

Conclusions: Our data indicate that Zp is not essential for the efficient transfer of iron to the fetus in mice and is localized predominantly in the maternal decidua. The increase in placental size observed when Zp is knocked out in the entire placenta suggests that this protein may play a role in placental development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab174DOI Listing
June 2021

Is the link between elevated TSH and gestational diabetes mellitus dependant on diagnostic criteria and thyroid antibody status: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Endocrine 2021 May 15. Epub 2021 May 15.

School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Purpose: Clinical studies have investigated the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in women with subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH). While some studies demonstrate a clear association, others do not. It is possible this may be due to varied diagnostic criteria for SCH and the presence of thyroid antibodies (TA). We conducted a meta-analysis, separating patients diagnosed with SCH using a diagnostic cut-off <4.0 mIU/L from those diagnosed using a cut-off >4.0 mIU/L and determined the association with GDM and factored TA status into our analysis.

Methods: A computerised search of five databases including PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and CINAHL returned 787 records. Two independent reviewers assessed abstracts and full texts against pre-specified inclusion and exclusion criteria. Ten cohort studies were included in the final analysis. The diagnostic criteria for SCH and incidence of GDM were extracted from each study. Study quality and risk of bias was assessed by two reviewers.

Results: TSH levels <4.0 mIU/L for SCH diagnosis was not associated with GDM unless patients were TA positive. Studies that used a diagnostic cut-off >4.0 mIU/L saw a significant increase in the odds of GDM, regardless of TA status (OR = 1.60, 95% CI 1.33-1.93).

Conclusions: Women with TSH levels >4.0 mIU/L have an increased odds of GDM regardless of TA status but at TSH levels <4.0 mIU/L, GDM is dependent on TA status. The use of TSH levels to identify pregnancies at risk of GDM is a novel concept that warrants exploration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12020-021-02733-xDOI Listing
May 2021

Maternal diet high in linoleic acid alters offspring fatty acids and cardiovascular function in a rat model.

Br J Nutr 2021 Apr 16:1-14. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Linoleic acid (LA), an essential n-6 fatty acid (FA), is critical for fetal development. We investigated the effects of maternal high LA (HLA) diet on offspring cardiac development and its relationship to circulating FA and cardiovascular function in adolescent offspring, and the ability of the postnatal diet to reverse any adverse effects. Female Wistar Kyoto rats were fed low LA (LLA; 1·44 % energy from LA) or high LA (HLA; 6·21 % energy from LA) diets for 10 weeks before pregnancy and during gestation/lactation. Offspring, weaned at postnatal day 25, were fed LLA or HLA diets and euthanised at postnatal day 40 (n 6-8). Maternal HLA diet decreased circulating total cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol in females and decreased total plasma n-3 FA in males, while maternal and postnatal HLA diets decreased total plasma n-3 FA in females. α-Linolenic acid (ALA) and EPA were decreased by postnatal but not maternal HLA diets in both sexes. Maternal and postnatal HLA diets increased total plasma n-6 and LA, and a maternal HLA diet increased circulating leptin, in both male and female offspring. Maternal HLA decreased slopes of systolic and diastolic pressure-volume relationship (PVR), and increased cardiac Col1a1, Col3a1, Atp2a1 and Notch1 in males. Maternal and postnatal HLA diets left-shifted the diastolic PVR in female offspring. Coronary reactivity was altered in females, with differential effects on flow repayment after occlusion. Thus, maternal HLA diets impact lipids, FA and cardiac function in offspring, with postnatal diet modifying FA and cardiac function in the female offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114521001276DOI Listing
April 2021

Maternal and Postnatal High Linoleic Acid Diet Impacts Lipid Metabolism in Adult Rat Offspring in a Sex-Specific Manner.

Int J Mol Sci 2021 Mar 14;22(6). Epub 2021 Mar 14.

Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC 8001, Australia.

Linoleic acid (LA), an n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), is essential for fetal growth and development. We aimed to investigate the effect of maternal and postnatal high LA (HLA) diet on plasma FA composition, plasma and hepatic lipids and genes involved in lipid metabolism in the liver of adult offspring. Female rats were fed with low LA (LLA; 1.44% LA) or HLA (6.21% LA) diets for 10 weeks before pregnancy, and during gestation/lactation. Offspring were weaned at postnatal day 25 (PN25), fed either LLA or HLA diets and sacrificed at PN180. Postnatal HLA diet decreased circulating total n-3 PUFA and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), while increased total n-6 PUFA, LA and arachidonic acid (AA) in both male and female offspring. Maternal HLA diet increased circulating leptin in female offspring, but not in males. Maternal HLA diet decreased circulating adiponectin in males. Postnatal HLA diet significantly decreased aspartate transaminase (AST) in females and downregulated total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides in the plasma of males. Maternal HLA diet downregulated the hepatic mRNA expression of in both male and female offspring and decreased the hepatic mRNA expression of and in females. Both maternal and postnatal HLA diet decreased hepatic mRNA expression of in females. Postnatal diet significantly altered circulating fatty acid concentrations, with sex-specific differences in genes that control lipid metabolism in the adult offspring following exposure to high LA diet in utero.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms22062946DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7999727PMC
March 2021

Maternal selenium deficiency in mice promotes sex-specific changes to urine flow and renal expression of mitochondrial proteins in adult offspring.

Physiol Rep 2021 Mar;9(6):e14785

School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.

Selenium deficiency during pregnancy can impair fetal development and predispose offspring to thyroid dysfunction. Given that key selenoproteins are highly expressed in the kidney and that poor thyroid health can lead to kidney disease, it is likely that kidney function may be impaired in offspring of selenium-deficient mothers. This study utilized a mouse model of maternal selenium deficiency to investigate kidney protein glycation, mitochondrial adaptations, and urinary excretion in offspring. Female C57BL/6 mice were fed control (>190 µg selenium/kg) or low selenium (<50 µg selenium/kg) diets four weeks prior to mating, throughout gestation, and lactation. At postnatal day (PN) 170, offspring were placed in metabolic cages for 24 hr prior to tissue collection at PN180. Maternal selenium deficiency did not impact selenoprotein antioxidant activity, but increased advanced glycation end products in female kidneys. Male offspring had reduced renal Complex II and Complex IV protein levels and lower 24 hr urine flow. Although renal aquaporin 2 (Aqp2) and arginine vasopressin receptor 2 (Avpr2) mRNA were not altered by maternal selenium deficiency, a correlation between urine flow and plasma free T concentrations in male but not female offspring suggests that programed thyroid dysfunction may be mediating impaired urine flow. This study demonstrates that maternal selenium deficiency can lead to long-term deficits in kidney parameters that may be secondary to impaired thyroid dysfunction. Considering the significant burden of renal dysfunction as a comorbidity to metabolic diseases, improving maternal selenium intake in pregnancy may be one simple measure to prevent lifelong disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14785DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7995548PMC
March 2021

Mitochondrial dysfunction in placental trophoblast cells experiencing gestational diabetes mellitus.

J Physiol 2021 02 15;599(4):1291-1305. Epub 2020 Nov 15.

School of Medical Science, Griffith Health, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Key Points: Mitochondrial dysfunction is known to occur in diabetic phenotypes including type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus. The incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is increasing and defined as the onset of a diabetic phenotype during pregnancy. The role of placental mitochondria in the aetiology of GDM remains unclear and is an emerging area of research. Differing mitochondrial morphologies within the placenta may influence the pathogenesis of the disorder. This study observed mitochondrial dysfunction in GDM placenta when assessing whole tissue. Upon further investigation into mitochondrial isolates from the cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast, mitochondrial dysfunction appears exaggerated in syncytiotrophoblast. Assessing mitochondrial populations individually enabled the determination of differences between cell lineages of the placenta and established varying levels of mitochondrial dysfunction in GDM, in some instances establishing significance in pathways previously inconclusive or confounded when assessing whole tissue. This research lays the foundation for future work into mitochondrial dysfunction in the placenta and the role it may play in the aetiology of GDM.

Abstract: Mitochondrial dysfunction has been associated with diabetic phenotypes, yet the involvement of placental mitochondria in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) remains inconclusive. This is in part complicated by the different mitochondrial subpopulations present in the two major trophoblast cell lineages of the placenta. To better elucidate the role of mitochondria in this pathology, this study examined key aspects of mitochondrial function in placentas from healthy pregnancies and those complicated by GDM in both whole tissue and isolated mitochondria. Mitochondrial content, citrate synthase activity, reactive oxygen species production and gene expression regulating metabolic, hormonal and antioxidant control was examined in placental tissue, before examining functional differences between mitochondrial isolates from cytotrophoblast (Cyto-Mito) and syncytiotrophoblast (Syncytio-Mito). Our study observed evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction across multiple pathways when assessing whole placental tissue from GDM pregnancies compared with healthy controls. Furthermore, by examining isolated mitochondria from the cytotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast cell lineages of the placenta we established that although both mitochondrial populations were dysfunctional, they were differentially impacted. These data highlight the need to consider changes in mitochondrial subpopulations at the feto-maternal interface when studying pregnancy pathologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/JP280593DOI Listing
February 2021

Low serum selenium in pregnancy is associated with reduced T3 and increased risk of GDM.

J Endocrinol 2021 01;248(1):45-57

The School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.

Thyroid disorders are the most common endocrine disorders affecting women commencing pregnancy. Thyroid hormone metabolism is strongly influenced by selenium status; however, the relationship between serum selenium concentrations and thyroid hormones in euthyroid pregnant women is unknown. This study investigated the relationship between maternal selenium and thyroid hormone status during pregnancy by utilizing data from a retrospective, cross-sectional study (Maternal Outcomes and Nutrition Tool or MONT study) with cohorts from two tertiary care hospitals in South East Queensland, Australia. Pregnant women (n = 206) were recruited at 26-30 weeks gestation and serum selenium concentrations were assessed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Thyroid function parameters were measured in serum samples from women with the lowest serum selenium concentrations (51.2 ± 1.2 µg/L), women with mean concentrations representative of the entire cohort (78.8 ± 0.4 µg/L) and women with optimal serum selenium concentrations (106.9 ± 2.3 µg/L). Women with low serum selenium concentrations demonstrated reduced fT3 levels (P < 0.05) and increased TPOAb (P < 0.01). Serum selenium was positively correlated with fT3 (P < 0.05) and negatively correlated with TPOAb (P < 0.001). Serum fT4 and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) were not different between all groups, though the fT4/TSH ratio was increased in the low selenium cohort (P < 0.05). Incidence of pregnancy disorders, most notably gestational diabetes mellitus, was increased within the low serum selenium cohort (P < 0.01). These results suggest selenium status in pregnant women of South East Queensland may not be adequate, with possible implications for atypical thyroid function and undesirable pregnancy outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/JOE-20-0319DOI Listing
January 2021

Periconceptional ethanol exposure alters hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, signalling elements and associated behaviours in a rodent model.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2020 12 7;122:104901. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, 4072, Australia; The Child Health Research Centre, The University of Queensland, 4072, Australia. Electronic address:

Alcohol consumption throughout pregnancy has been associated with mental illness, hyperactivity and social difficulties in offspring. This may be due in part to programmed disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) activity and responsiveness. However, it is unknown if the HPA is affected and similar behavioural outcomes occur following alcohol exposure limited to the time around conception, the periconceptional (PC) period. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with PC:EtOH (12.5 % v/v EtOH liquid diet) or a control diet from four days before conception, until embryonic day 4. Offspring at 3-months of age underwent the forced swim test (FST) and social interaction test. HPA reactivity tests (combined dexamethasone suppression test (DST) and corticotropin-releasing hormone test (CST), 30-minute restraint stress) were performed at 5 months of age and then pituitary and adrenal glands were collected for expression of genes involved in HPA regulation. PC:EtOH exposure significantly increased immobility (p < 0.05) in both sexes in the FST. PC:EtOH also increased the duration of affiliative behaviour (p < 0.05) within the social interaction test in female offspring. PC:EtOH programmed HPA hyperactivity in both sexes during the DST/CST test (p < 0.05); however, there was no impact of PC:EtOH on plasma corticosterone concentration in response to restraint stress. There was no significant impact of PC:EtOH on mRNA expression in glucocorticoid signalling genes in the pituitary gland or the steroidogenic pathway in the adrenal gland. This study suggests that alcohol exposure, even when limited to a short period around conception, can program mental illness-like phenotypes, and this was associated with alterations in HPA responsiveness. This study further highlights that consumption of alcohol even prior to implantation may impact the long-term health of offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104901DOI Listing
December 2020

Mitochondrial transformations in the aging human placenta.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2020 12 21;319(6):E981-E994. Epub 2020 Sep 21.

School of Medical Science, Griffith University Gold Coast Campus, Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Mitochondria play a key role in homeostasis and are central to one of the leading hypotheses of aging, the free radical theory. Mitochondria function as a reticulated network, constantly adapting to the cellular environment through fusion (joining), biogenesis (formation of new mitochondria), and fission (separation). This adaptive response is particularly important in response to oxidative stress, cellular damage, and aging, when mitochondria are selectively removed through mitophagy, a mitochondrial equivalent of autophagy. During this complex process, mitochondria influence surrounding cell biology and organelles through the release of signaling molecules. Given that the human placenta is a unique organ having a transient and somewhat defined life span of ∼280 days, any adaption or dysfunction associated with mitochondrial physiology as a result of aging will have a dramatic impact on the health and function of both the placenta and the fetus. Additionally, a defective placenta during gestation, resulting in reduced fetal growth, has been shown to influence the development of chronic disease in later life. In this review we focus on the mitochondrial adaptions and transformations that accompany gestational length and share similarities with age-related diseases. In addition, we discuss the role of such changes in regulating placental function throughout gestation, the etiology of gestational complications, and the development of chronic diseases later in life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00354.2020DOI Listing
December 2020

Maternal High Linoleic Acid Alters Placental Fatty Acid Composition.

Nutrients 2020 Jul 23;12(8). Epub 2020 Jul 23.

Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia.

Fetal development is modulated by maternal nutrition during pregnancy. The dietary intake of linoleic acid (LA), an essential dietary n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), has increased. We previously published that increased LA consumption during pregnancy does not alter offspring or placental weight but fetal plasma fatty acid composition; the developing fetus obtains their required PUFA from the maternal circulation. However, it is unknown if increased maternal linoleic acid alters placental fatty acid storage, metabolism, transport, and general placental function. Female Wistar-Kyoto rats were fed either a low LA diet (LLA; 1.44% of energy from LA) or high LA diet (HLA; 6.21% of energy from LA) for 10 weeks before pregnancy and during gestation. Rats were sacrificed at embryonic day 20 (E20, term = 22 days) and placentae collected. The labyrinth of placentae from one male and one female fetus from each litter were analyzed. High maternal LA consumption increased placental total n-6 and LA concentrations, and decreased total n-3 PUFA, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fatty acid desaturase 1 (), angiopoietin-like 4 (), and diacylglycerol lipase beta () mRNA were downregulated in placentae from offspring from HLA dams. Maternal high LA downregulated the fatty acid transport protein 4 () and glucose transporter 1 () mRNA in placentae. IL-7 and IL-10 protein were decreased in placentae from offspring from HLA dams. In conclusion, a high maternal LA diet alters the placental fatty acid composition, inflammatory proteins, and expressions of nutrient transporters, which may program deleterious outcomes in offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12082183DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468786PMC
July 2020

Analysis of Selenoprotein Expression in Response to Dietary Selenium Deficiency During Pregnancy Indicates Tissue Specific Differential Expression in Mothers and Sex Specific Changes in the Fetus and Offspring.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Mar 23;21(6). Epub 2020 Mar 23.

School of Medical Science, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University Gold, Coast Campus, Southport, QLD 4215, Australia.

The human selenoproteome is comprised of ~25 genes, which incorporate selenium, in the form of selenocysteine, into their structure. Since it is well known that selenium is important to maternal health and foetal development during pregnancy, this study aimed at defining the impact of selenium deficiency on maternal, placental, foetal and offspring selenoprotein gene expression. Female mice were randomly allocated to control (>190 μg/kg) or low selenium (<50 μg/kg) diets four weeks prior to mating and throughout gestation. At embryonic day (E)18.5, pregnant mice were sacrificed followed by collection of maternal and foetal tissues. A subset of mice littered down, and offspring were monitored from postnatal day (PN) 8, weaned at PN24 and sacrificed at PN180, followed by tissue collection. Following RNA extraction, the expression of 14 selenoproteins was assessed with qPCR in liver, kidneys, muscle and placenta. Selenium deficiency downregulated expression ( < 0.05) of many selenoproteins in maternal tissues and the placenta. However, foetal selenoprotein expression was upregulated ( < 0.05) in all tissues, especially the kidneys. This was not reflected at PN180; however, a sexually dimorphic relationship in selenoprotein expression was observed in offspring. This study demonstrates the selenoproteome is sensitive to dietary selenium levels, which may be exacerbated by pregnancy. We concluded that transcriptional regulation of selenoproteins is complex and multifaceted, with expression exhibiting tissue-, age- and sex-specificities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21062210DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7139809PMC
March 2020

Maternal Selenium Deficiency in Mice Alters Offspring Glucose Metabolism and Thyroid Status in a Sexually Dimorphic Manner.

Nutrients 2020 Jan 20;12(1). Epub 2020 Jan 20.

School of Medical Science, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University Gold, Coast Campus, Southport, QLD 4215, Australia.

Selenium is an essential micronutrient commonly deficient in human populations. Selenium deficiency increases the risks of pregnancy complications; however, the long-term impact of selenium deficiency on offspring disease remains unclear. This study investigates the effects of selenium deficiency during pregnancy on offspring metabolic function. Female C57BL/6 mice were allocated to control (>190 μg selenium/kg, = 8) or low selenium (<50 μg selenium/kg, = 8) diets prior to mating and throughout gestation. At postnatal day (PN) 170, mice underwent an intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test and were culled at PN180 for biochemical analysis. Mice exposed to selenium deficiency in utero had reduced fasting blood glucose but increased postprandial blood glucose concentrations. Male offspring from selenium-deficient litters had increased plasma insulin levels in conjunction with reduced plasma thyroxine (tetraiodothyronine or T4) concentrations. Conversely, females exposed to selenium deficiency in utero exhibited increased plasma thyroxine levels with no change in plasma insulin. This study demonstrates the importance of adequate selenium intake around pregnancy for offspring metabolic health. Given the increasing prevalence of metabolic disease, this study highlights the need for appropriate micronutrient intake during pregnancy to ensure a healthy start to life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12010267DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7020085PMC
January 2020

Role of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in fetal programming.

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2020 05 28;47(5):907-915. Epub 2020 Jan 28.

Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, Vic., Australia.

Maternal nutrition plays a critical role in fetal development and can influence adult onset of disease. Linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are major omega-6 (n-6) and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), respectively, that are essential in our diet. LA and ALA are critical for the development of the fetal neurological and immune systems. However, in recent years, the consumption of n-6 PUFA has increased gradually worldwide, and elevated n-6 PUFA consumption may be harmful to human health. Consumption of diets with high levels of n-6 PUFA before or during pregnancy may have detrimental effects on fetal development and may influence overall health of offspring in adulthood. This review discusses the role of n-6 PUFA in fetal programming, the importance of a balance between n-6 and n-3 PUFAs in the maternal diet, and the need of further animal models and human studies that critically evaluate both n-6 and n-3 PUFA contents in diets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1440-1681.13244DOI Listing
May 2020

Pregnancy and diet-related changes in the maternal gut microbiota following exposure to an elevated linoleic acid diet.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2020 02 17;318(2):E276-E285. Epub 2019 Dec 17.

Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Dietary intakes of linoleic acid (LA) have increased, including in women of reproductive age. Changes in maternal gut microbiome have been implicated in the metabolic adaptions that occur during pregnancy. We aimed to investigate whether consumption of a diet with elevated LA altered fecal microbiome diversity before and during pregnancy. Female Wistar-Kyoto rats consumed a high-LA diet (HLA: 6.21% of energy) or a low-LA diet (LLA: 1.44% of energy) for 10 wk before mating and during pregnancy. DNA was isolated from fecal samples before pregnancy [embryonic day 0 (E0)], or during pregnancy at E10 and E20. The microbiome composition was assessed with 16S rRNA sequencing. At E0, the beta-diversity of LLA and HLA groups differed with HLA rats having significantly lower abundance of the genera , and but higher abundance of and . Over gestation, in LLA but not HLA rats, there was a reduction in alpha-diversity and an increase in beta-diversity. In the LLA group, the abundance of , and decreased over gestation, whereas increased. In the HLA group; only the abundance of decreased. At E20, there were no differences in alpha- and beta-diversity, and the abundance of was significantly increased in the HLA group. In conclusion, consumption of a HLA diet alters gut microbiota composition, as does pregnancy in rats consuming a LLA diet. In pregnancy, consumption of a HLA diet does not alter gut microbiota composition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00265.2019DOI Listing
February 2020

The effect of high maternal linoleic acid on endocannabinoid signalling in rodent hearts.

J Dev Orig Health Dis 2020 12 9;11(6):617-622. Epub 2019 Dec 9.

Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS), modulated by metabolites of linoleic acid (LA), is important in regulating cardiovascular function. In pregnancy, LA is vital for foetal development. We investigated the effects of elevated LA in H9c2 cardiomyoblasts in vitro and of a high linoleic acid (HLA, 6.21%) or low linoleic acid (LLA, 1.44%) diet during pregnancy in maternal and offspring hearts. H9c2 cell viability was reduced following LA exposure at concentrations between 300 and 1000 µM. HLA diet decreased cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) mRNA expression in foetal hearts from both sexes. However, HLA diet increased CB2 expression in maternal hearts. The mRNA expression of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) in foetal hearts was higher in females than in males irrespective of diet and N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamine-specific phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD) mRNA expression showed an interaction between diet and sex. Data indicate that a high LA diet alters cell viability and CB2 expression, potentially influencing cardiac function during pregnancy and development of the offspring's heart.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S2040174419000813DOI Listing
December 2020

Maternal selenium deficiency during pregnancy in mice increases thyroid hormone concentrations, alters placental function and reduces fetal growth.

J Physiol 2019 12 30;597(23):5597-5617. Epub 2019 Oct 30.

School of Medical Science, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University Gold Coast Campus, Southport, QLD, Australia.

Key Points: Inappropriate intake of key micronutrients in pregnancy is known to alter maternal endocrine status, impair placental development and induce fetal growth restriction. Selenium is an essential micronutrient required for the function of approximately 25 important proteins. However, the specific effects of selenium deficiency during pregnancy on maternal, placental and fetal outcomes are poorly understood. The present study demonstrates that maternal selenium deficiency increases maternal triiodothyronine and tetraiodothyronine concentrations, reduces fetal blood glucose concentrations, and induces fetal growth restriction. Placental expression of key selenium-dependent thyroid hormone converting enzymes were reduced, whereas the expression of key placental nutrient transporters was dysregulated. Selenium deficiency had minimal impact on selenium-dependent anti-oxidants but increased placental copper concentrations and expression of superoxide dismutase 1. These results highlight the idea that selenium deficiency during pregnancy may contribute to thyroid dysfunction, causing reduced fetal growth, that may precede programmed disease outcomes in offspring.

Abstract: Selenium is a trace element fundamental to diverse homeostatic processes, including anti-oxidant regulation and thyroid hormone metabolism. Selenium deficiency in pregnancy is common and increases the risk of pregnancy complications including fetal growth restriction. Although altered placental formation may contribute to these poor outcomes, the mechanism by which selenium deficiency contributes to complications in pregnancy is poorly understood. Female C57BL/6 mice were randomly allocated to control (>190 µg kg , n = 8) or low selenium (<50 µg kg , n = 8) diets 4 weeks prior to mating and throughout gestation. Pregnant mice were killed at embryonic day 18.5 followed by collection of maternal and fetal tissue. Maternal and fetal plasma thyroid hormone concentrations were analysed, as was placental expression of key selenoproteins involved in thyroid metabolism and anti-oxidant defences. Selenium deficiency increased plasma tetraiodothyronine and triiodothyronine concentrations. This was associated with a reduction in placental expression of key selenodependent deiodinases, DIO2 and DIO3. Placental expression of selenium-dependent anti-oxidants was unaffected by selenium deficiency. Selenium deficiency reduced fetal glucose concentrations, leading to reduced fetal weight. Placental glycogen content was increased within the placenta, as was Slc2a3 mRNA expression. This is the first study to demonstrate that selenium deficiency may reduce fetal weight through increased maternal thyroid hormone concentrations, impaired placental thyroid hormone metabolism and dysregulated placental nutrient transporter expression. The study suggests that the magnitude of selenium deficiency commonly reported in pregnant women may be sufficient to impair thyroid metabolism but not placental anti-oxidant concentrations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/JP278473DOI Listing
December 2019

Elevated maternal linoleic acid reduces circulating leptin concentrations, cholesterol levels and male fetal survival in a rat model.

J Physiol 2019 07 2;597(13):3349-3361. Epub 2019 Jun 2.

School of Environment and Science, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, Australia.

Key Points: Linoleic acid consumption is increasing in Western populations. We investigated whether elevated linoleic acid in pregnancy was deleterious to mothers or offspring. Maternal and fetal body and organ weights were not affected by elevated linoleic acid consumption. Maternal lipids and leptin were altered following elevated linoleic acid consumption. Male offspring numbers were reduced following elevated linoleic acid consumption.

Abstract: Dietary intakes of linoleic acid (LA) have increased dramatically in Western populations, including in women of reproductive age. Pro-inflammatory effects of LA may have detrimental effects on maternal and offspring outcomes. We aimed to investigate whether consumption of a maternal diet with elevated LA altered maternal inflammatory or metabolic markers during pregnancy, fetal growth and/or the sex ratio of the offspring. Female Wistar Kyoto rats consumed a diet high in LA (HLA) (6.21% of energy) or a diet low in LA (LLA) (1.44% of energy) for 10 weeks prior to mating and during pregnancy. Pregnant rats were killed at embryonic day 20 (E20). There were no differences in maternal or fetal body weights or organ weights in the HLA group compared to the LLA group. There was no difference in maternal circulating cytokine concentrations between dietary groups. In the maternal liver, IL-1α concentrations were significantly lower, and TNF-α and IL-7 significantly higher in the HLA group. Total plasma cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and the total:HDL cholesterol ratio were lower in dams fed the HLA diet. mRNA expression of sterol regulatory element binding transcription factor 1 (SREBF-1) and leptin in maternal adipose tissue was lower in the HLA group, as were circulating leptin concentrations. The proportion of male fetuses was lower and circulating prostaglandin E metabolite concentrations were increased in the HLA group. In conclusion, consumption of a maternal diet high in linoleic acid alters cholesterol metabolism and prostaglandin E metabolite concentrations, which may contribute to the reduced proportion of male offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/JP277583DOI Listing
July 2019

Maternal corticosterone in the mouse alters oxidative stress markers, antioxidant function and mitochondrial content in placentas of female fetuses.

J Physiol 2019 06 20;597(12):3053-3067. Epub 2019 May 20.

School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Key Points: Maternal exposure to the stress hormone corticosterone is known to programme a range of sex specific disease outcomes in offspring. Sex differences in placental adaptations are thought to mediate these processes. Placental oxidative stress is implicated in a range of pregnancy disorders but the role of placental oxidative stress in sex specific disease outcomes following prenatal corticosterone exposure is unknown. This study demonstrates that maternal corticosterone reduced placental hydrogen peroxide and 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine concentrations but increased protein carbonyl content and advanced glycation end product concentrations in placentas of female fetuses but not male fetuses. These results highlight that placentas of female fetuses respond differently to maternal corticosterone exposure, with oxidative stress a major finding in placentas of female fetuses.

Abstract: Maternal exposure to glucocorticoids during pregnancy increases offspring risk of developing a range of sex specific disease phenotypes. These sex specific disease outcomes are thought to be in part mediated by different placental adaptations in males and females. The placenta is a highly metabolic organ which is vulnerable to the effects of oxidative stress. In other tissues, males and females have been shown to respond differently to the pro-oxidant effects of glucocorticoids. This study therefore used a well characterized animal model of maternal corticosterone exposure to investigate sex specific alterations in reactive oxygen species production, antioxidant concentrations and mitochondrial properties that might contribute to sex differences in placental outcomes. C57BL/6 mice were implanted with osmotic minipumps containing corticosterone (33 μg kg  h ) at embryonic day (E) 12.5 and placentas collected at E14.5 for analysis. Corticosterone exposure reduced placental hydrogen peroxide (H O ) and 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine concentrations but increased protein carbonyl content and advanced glycation end product concentrations in placentas of female fetuses but not male fetuses. This dysregulation of different markers of oxidative stress may be due to increased placental activity of thioredoxin reductase in female but not male fetuses. Corticosterone reduced placental mitochondrial content but increased protein expression of the autophagosome cargo protein p62. This study demonstrates that placentas of female fetuses respond differently to maternal corticosterone exposure and highlights an important role of reactive oxygen species, mitochondrial adaptations and antioxidant responses in glucocorticoid induced programmed disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/JP277815DOI Listing
June 2019

Linoleic Acid Increases Prostaglandin E2 Release and Reduces Mitochondrial Respiration and Cell Viability in Human Trophoblast-Like Cells.

Cell Physiol Biochem 2019 18;52(1):94-108. Epub 2019 Feb 18.

Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.

Background/aims: The omega 6 fatty acid (FA) linoleic acid (LA) is required for embryonic development; however, omega 6 FAs can alter cellular metabolism via inflammation or modulation of mitochondrial function. Fetal LA is obtained from the maternal diet, and FAs are transported to the fetus via placental FA transporters (FATPs) and binding proteins (FABPs), but specific proteins responsible for LA transport in placental trophoblasts are unknown. Dietary LA consumption is increasing, but the effect of elevated LA on trophoblast function is not clear.

Methods: Swan71 trophoblasts were exposed to physiological and supraphysiological concentrations of LA for 24 hours. Quantification of mRNA was determined using real time PCR, and protein concentration was determined by Western blot analysis. Cell viability, citrate synthase activity and mitochondrial respiration were determined.

Results: Exposure to 300 and 500 μM LA increased FATP1 and FATP4 mRNA expression. 500 μM LA increased FATP1 and FATP4 protein expression. Exposure to 500 μM increased FABP5 mRNA expression, while exposure to 100 to 500 μM LA decreased FABP3 mRNA expression. 300 and 500 μM LA decreased FABP3 protein expression. Cell viability was decreased by exposure to LA (100 to 1000 μM). Citrate synthase activity and routine mitochondrial respiration were significantly decreased by exposure to 300 and 500 μM LA, and maximal respiration and spare respiratory capacity were decreased by exposure to 100 to 500 μM LA. 300 and 500 μM LA increased reactive oxygen species generation in human trophoblasts. Moreover, exposure to 300 and 500 μM LA decreased IL-6 secretion. Exposure to 500 μM LA increased IL-8, NF-κB and PPAR-γ mRNA expression, but decreased NF-κB protein expression. 300 μM LA decreased IL-8 protein expression. Further, exposure to 100 to 500 μM LA increased prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B₄ release.

Conclusion: Exposure to LA decreases cell viability, alters mRNA expression of FA transport related proteins, mitochondrial respiration and function, and inflammatory responses in trophoblasts. These findings may have implications on placental function when women consume high levels of LA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.33594/000000007DOI Listing
March 2019

Periconceptional ethanol exposure alters the stress axis in adult female but not male rat offspring.

Stress 2019 05 11;22(3):347-357. Epub 2019 Feb 11.

a School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine , The University of Queensland , Brisbane , Australia.

Ethanol consumption during pregnancy alters offspring hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation. However, little is known about the outcomes of alcohol consumption confined to the periconceptional period. This study investigated the effects of periconceptional ethanol (PC:EtOH) exposure on corticosterone concentrations, response to restraint stress and gene expression of adrenal, hypothalamic, and hippocampal glucocorticoid-related pathways in rat offspring. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with PC:EtOH (12.5% v/v EtOH liquid diet) or a control diet from four days before conception, until embryonic day 4. At 6 (adult) and 12-14 (aged) months of age, basal corticosterone concentrations were measured, while in a separate cohort of aged rats, blood pressure, heart rate, and plasma corticosterone concentrations were measured during a 30-minute restraint stress. Adrenal gland, hypothalamic and hippocampal tissue from aged rats were subjected to transcriptomic analysis. PC:EtOH exposure reduced basal plasma corticosterone concentrations in adult and aged female but not male offspring (p < .05). The corticosterone and pressor response were significantly reduced in aged PC:EtOH female offspring following restraint (p < .05). Expression of adrenal steroidogenesis genes (Mc2r, Cyp11a1, Cyp21a1, 11bhsd2, and Nr3c1) and hypothalamic genes (Crh, Crh-r1, Nr3c1, and Hsp90a1) was not affected by PC:EtOH. In aged female offspring exposed to PC:EtOH, adrenal mRNA expression of Hsp90a1 was significantly elevated, and within the hippocampus, mRNAs for glucocorticoid receptor (Nr3c1) and Hsp90a1 were increased (p < .05). This study supports the hypothesis that prenatal alcohol exposure programs sex-specific alterations in the HPA axis and provides the first evidence that the periconceptional period is a critical window for programing of this axis. Lay summary This study investigated the impact of alcohol consumption around the time of conception on offspring stress reactivity in a rat model. Offspring exposed to alcohol displayed altered cardiovascular responses to stress and had reduced circulating concentrations of the stress hormone corticosterone both under basal conditions and following a stressful challenge. This study also identified altered expression of key genes in an important part of the brain known to be involved in stress responsiveness; the hippocampus. If similar outcomes occur in humans, these results would suggest that alcohol consumption, even before a woman knows she is pregnant, may significantly impact stress-related outcomes in children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10253890.2018.1563068DOI Listing
May 2019

Exercise initiated during pregnancy in rats born growth restricted alters placental mTOR and nutrient transporter expression.

J Physiol 2019 04 1;597(7):1905-1918. Epub 2019 Mar 1.

Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010, Australia.

Key Points: Fetal growth is dependent on effective placental nutrient transportation, which is regulated by mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 modulation of nutrient transporter expression. These transporters are dysregulated in pregnancies affected by uteroplacental insufficiency and maternal obesity. Nutrient transporters and mTOR were altered in placentae of mothers born growth restricted compared to normal birth weight dams, with maternal diet- and fetal sex-specific responses. Exercise initiated during pregnancy downregulated mTOR protein expression, despite an increase in mTOR activation in male associated placentae, and reduced nutrient transporter gene abundance, which was also dependent on maternal diet and fetal sex. Limited changes were characterized with exercise initiated before and continued throughout pregnancy in nutrient transporter and mTOR expression. Maternal exercise during pregnancy differentially regulated mTOR and nutrient transporters in a diet- and sex-specific manner, which likely aimed to improve late gestational placental growth and neonatal survival.

Abstract: Adequate transplacental nutrient delivery is essential for fetoplacental development. Intrauterine growth restriction and maternal obesity independently alter placental nutrient transporter expression. Although exercise is beneficial for maternal health, limited studies have characterized how the timing of exercise initiation influences placental nutrient transport. Therefore, this study investigated the impact of maternal exercise on placental mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) and nutrient transporter expression in growth restricted mothers and whether these outcomes were dependent on maternal diet or fetal sex. Uteroplacental insufficiency or sham surgery was induced on embryonic day (E) 18 in Wistar-Kyoto rats. F1 offspring were fed a chow or high-fat diet from weaning and at 16 weeks were randomly allocated to an exercise protocol: sedentary, exercised prior to and during pregnancy, or exercised during pregnancy only. Females were mated with normal males (20 weeks) and F2 placentae collected at E20. Exercise during pregnancy only, reduced mTOR protein expression in all groups and increased mTOR activation in male associated placentae. Exercise during pregnancy only, decreased the expression of amino acid transporters in a diet- and sex-specific manner. Maternal growth restriction altered mTOR and system A amino acid transporter expression in a sex- and diet-specific manner. These data highlight that maternal exercise initiated during pregnancy alters placental mTOR expression, which may directly regulate amino acid transporter expression, to a greater extent than exercise initiated prior to and continued during pregnancy, in a diet- and fetal sex-dependent manner. These findings highlight that the timing of exercise initiation is important for optimal placental function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/JP277227DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6441930PMC
April 2019

Placental mitochondrial adaptations in preeclampsia associated with progression to term delivery.

Cell Death Dis 2018 11 19;9(12):1150. Epub 2018 Nov 19.

School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, QLD, Australia.

Preeclampsia is a devastating pregnancy disorder. Severity varies widely, and while severe preeclampsia often requires pre-term delivery, women with mild preeclampsia may reach term with minor interventions. The mechanisms that mediate disease severity are poorly understood, but may include adaptive processes by the placenta. We aimed to establish whether in pregnancies that reached term and those that delivered pre-term, the placental response to preeclampsia was intrinsically different, and explore potential adaptive mechanisms. Hydrogen peroxide production and antioxidant activity were increased in term preeclamptic placentae, whereas pre-term preeclamptic placentae had reduced hydrogen peroxide production and reduced function of the antioxidant system superoxide dismutase compared to control placentae. Markers of mitochondrial fission/fusion, apoptosis and the expression level of mitochondrial complexes were differentially disrupted in term compared to pre-term preeclamptic placentae. Mitochondrial respiration and content were increased in term preeclamptic placentae, but mitochondria had a lower respiratory reserve capacity. Mitochondrial respiration and hydrogen peroxide production were increased in healthy term placentae after in vitro hypoxia/reoxygenation. Placentae from preeclamptic pregnancies that reached term showed multiple adaptions that were not present in pre-term preeclamptic placentae. Increased antioxidant activity, and expression of markers of mitochondrial fusion and apoptotic suppression, may relate to salvaging damaged mitochondria. Increased mitochondrial respiration may allow ongoing tissue function even with reduced respiratory efficiency in term preeclamptic pregnancies. Response after in vitro hypoxia/reoxygenation suggests that disruption of oxygen supply is key to placental mitochondrial adaptations. Reactive oxygen species signalling in term preeclamptic placentae may be at a level to trigger compensatory antioxidant and mitochondrial responses, allowing tissue level maintenance of function when there is organelle level dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41419-018-1190-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6242930PMC
November 2018

Maternal exercise in rats upregulates the placental insulin-like growth factor system with diet- and sex-specific responses: minimal effects in mothers born growth restricted.

J Physiol 2018 12 26;596(23):5947-5964. Epub 2018 Jul 26.

Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia.

Key Points: The placental insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system is critical for normal fetoplacental growth, which is dysregulated following several pregnancy perturbations including uteroplacental insufficiency and maternal obesity. We report that the IGF system was altered in placentae of mothers born growth restricted compared to normal birth weight mothers, with maternal diet- and fetal sex-specific responses. Additionally, we report increased body weight and plasma IGF1 concentrations in fetuses from chow-fed normal birth weight mothers that exercised prior to and continued during pregnancy compared to sedentary mothers. Exercise initiated during pregnancy, on the other hand, resulted in placental morphological alterations and increased IGF1 and IGF1R protein expression, which may in part be modulated by reduced Let 7f-1 miRNA abundance. Growth restriction of mothers before birth and exercise differentially regulate the placental IGF system with diet- and sex-specific responses, probably as a means to improve fetoplacental growth and development, and hence neonatal survival. This increased neonatal survival may prevent adult disease onset.

Abstract: The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system regulates fetoplacental growth and plays a role in disease programming. Dysregulation of the IGF system is implicated in several pregnancy perturbations associated with altered fetal growth, including intrauterine growth restriction and maternal obesity. Limited human studies have demonstrated that maternal exercise enhances fetoplacental growth and decreases cord IGF ligands, which may restore the placental IGF system in complicated pregnancies. This study investigated the impact maternal exercise has on the placental IGF system in placentae from mothers born growth restricted and if these outcomes are dependent on maternal diet or fetal sex. Uteroplacental insufficiency (Restricted) or sham (Control) surgery was induced on embryonic day (E) 18 in Wistar-Kyoto rats. F1 offspring were fed a chow or high-fat diet from weaning, and at 16 weeks were randomly allocated an exercise protocol: Sedentary, Exercised prior to and during pregnancy (Exercise), or Exercised during pregnancy only (PregEx). Females were mated (20 weeks) with placentae associated with F2 fetuses collected at E20. The placental IGF system mRNA abundance and placental morphology was altered in mothers born growth restricted. Exercise increased fetal weight and Control plasma IGF1 concentrations, and decreased female placental weight. PregEx did not influence fetoplacental growth but increased placental IGF1 and IGF1R (potentially modulated by reduced Let 7f-1 miRNA) and decreased placental IGF2 protein. Importantly, these placental IGF system changes occurred with sex-specific responses. These data highlight that exercise differently influences fetoplacental growth and the placental IGF system depending on maternal exercise initiation, which may prevent the transgenerational transmission of deficits and dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1113/JP275758DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6265528PMC
December 2018

Peripheral modulation of the endocannabinoid system in metabolic disease.

Drug Discov Today 2018 03 10;23(3):592-604. Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Centre for Chronic Disease, College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; School of Science, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, Australia. Electronic address:

Dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been identified in metabolic disease. Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB) is abundantly expressed in the brain but also expressed in the periphery. Cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB) is more abundant in the periphery, including the immune cells. In obesity, global antagonism of overexpressed CB reduces bodyweight but leads to centrally mediated adverse psychological outcomes. Emerging research in isolated cultured cells or tissues has demonstrated that targeting the endocannabinoid system in the periphery alleviates the pathologies associated with metabolic disease. Further, peripheral specific cannabinoid ligands can reverse aspects of the metabolic phenotype. This Keynote review will focus on current research on the functionality of peripheral modulation of the ECS for the treatment of obesity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drudis.2018.01.029DOI Listing
March 2018

Maternal growth restriction and stress exposure in rats differentially alters expression of components of the placental glucocorticoid barrier and nutrient transporters.

Placenta 2017 Nov 15;59:30-38. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia. Electronic address:

The placenta plays a major role in the development of fetal growth restriction, which affects 10% of pregnancies and contributes to chronic adult disease risk. We have reported that female rats born small develop cardiometabolic dysfunction only during pregnancy. The physiological tests performed during pregnancy induced a maternal stress response as indicated by increased maternal corticosterone concentrations. This stress effected placental growth compared to females who were unhandled during pregnancy. Maternal stress and growth restriction independently program F2 offspring metabolic dysfunction. This study investigated the effects of maternal stress and growth restriction on placental and fetal metabolic parameters that may contribute to F2 offspring metabolic disease. Maternal growth restriction reduced F2 fetal weight whilst maternal stress reduced placental weight. Stressed mothers had reduced insulin and increased glucose concentrations, changes that were reflected in the fetus. Fetal β-cell number was reduced by maternal growth restriction, but was increased by stress exposure. Maternal growth restriction reduced placental Slc2a1, Igf2, Slc38a2 and Nr3c1 gene expression. Maternal stress decreased the expression of Slc2a1, Igf2, Slc38a2, Nr3c1, Slc2a3, Slc2a4, Nr3c2, Hsd11b2, Crhr1 and Ogt. Maternal birth weight effects on fetal weight were likely due to changes in placental nutrient transporter and Igf2 expression. On the contrary, maternal stress induced a systemic effect by altering maternal metabolic parameters, placental gene expression and fetal glucose and insulin concentrations. This study highlights the importance of informing pregnant women on effective ways to cope with stress during pregnancy to prevent adverse long-term disease outcomes in their children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2017.09.006DOI Listing
November 2017

Effects of periconceptional maternal alcohol intake and a postnatal high-fat diet on obesity and liver disease in male and female rat offspring.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2018 10 31;315(4):E694-E704. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland , St. Lucia, Queensland , Australia.

The effects of maternal alcohol consumption around the time of conception on offspring are largely unknown and difficult to determine in a human population. This study utilized a rodent model to examine if periconceptional alcohol (PC:EtOH) consumption, alone or in combination with a postnatal high-fat diet (HFD), resulted in obesity and liver dysfunction. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a control or an ethanol-containing [12.5% (vol/vol) EtOH] liquid diet from 4 days before mating until 4 days of gestation ( n = 12/group). A subset of offspring was fed a HFD between 3 and 8 mo of age. In males, PC:EtOH and HFD increased total body fat mass ( P < 0.05, P < 0.0001); in females, only HFD increased fat mass ( P < 0.0001). PC:EtOH increased microvesicular liver steatosis in male, but not female, offspring. Plasma triglycerides, HDL, and cholesterol were increased in PC:EtOH-exposed males ( P < 0.05), and LDL, cholesterol, and leptin (Lep) were increased in PC:EtOH-exposed females ( P < 0.05). mRNA levels of Tnf-α and Lep in visceral adipose tissue were increased by PC:EtOH in both sexes ( P < 0.05), and Il-6 mRNA was increased in males ( P < 0.05). These findings were associated with reduced expression of microRNA-26a, a known regulator of IL-6 and TNF-α. Alcohol exposure around conception increases obesity risk, alters plasma lipid and leptin profiles, and induces liver steatosis in a sex-specific manner. These programmed phenotypes were similar to those caused by a postnatal HFD, particularly in male offspring. These results have implications for the health of offspring whose mothers consumed alcohol around the time of conception.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00251.2017DOI Listing
October 2018

Placental O-GlcNAc-transferase expression and interactions with the glucocorticoid receptor are sex specific and regulated by maternal corticosterone exposure in mice.

Sci Rep 2017 05 17;7(1):2017. Epub 2017 May 17.

School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, 4072, Australia.

Maternal stress programs offspring disease in a sexually dimorphic manner with males often more adversely affected. Previous studies of maternal glucocorticoid exposure suggest male vulnerability may derive from placental alterations. The hexosamine signalling pathway and O-linked glycosylation (O-GlcNAcylation) are part of an essential adaptive survival response in healthy cells. The key enzyme involved is O-linked-N-acetylglucosamine transferase (OGT), a gene recently identified as a sex-specific placental biomarker of maternal stress. Using a mouse model of maternal corticosterone (Cort) exposure, we examined components of hexosamine biosynthesis/signalling and O-GlcNAcylation in whole placentae at E14.5. Our results demonstrate sex-specific differences in OGT levels and O-GlcNAcylation during Cort exposure which impacts on key mediators of cell survival, in particular AKT as well as the stress responsive OGT/GR transrepression complex. In male placentae only, Cort exposure increased Akt O-GlcNacylation which correlated with decreased phosphorylation. Female placentae had higher basal OGT and OGT/GR complex compared with male placentae. Cort exposure did not alter these levels in female placentae but increased global O-GlcNacylation. In male placentae Cort increased OGT and OGT/GR complex with no change in global O-GlcNacylation. These findings suggest that sex-specific differences in placental OGT play a key role in the sexually dimorphic responses to stress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-01666-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435684PMC
May 2017

Dexamethasone and sex regulate placental glucocorticoid receptor isoforms in mice.

J Endocrinol 2017 Aug 10;234(2):89-100. Epub 2017 May 10.

Mater Research InstituteTranslational Research Institute, University of Queensland, Woolloongabba, Queensland, Australia

Maternal dexamethasone exposure in the mouse impairs placental development and programs adult disease in a sexually dimorphic manner. Glucocorticoids bind to different glucocorticoid receptor (GR) isoforms to regulate gene transcription and cellular signaling. We hypothesized that sexually dimorphic placental responses to glucocorticoids are due to differences in GR isoforms present in the placenta. Pregnant C57Bl6 mice were exposed to saline or dexamethasone from E12.5 until E14.5 (1 µg/kg/h) before the collection of placentae. Cytoplasmic and nuclear protein fractions were extracted from placentae of male and female fetuses for Western blot analysis of GR isoforms. Eight known isoforms of the GR were detected in the mouse placenta including the translational isoforms GRα-A, B, C and D1-3 and the splice variants GRA and GRP. The expression of GRA, GRP and each of the GRα isoforms were altered by dexamethasone in relation to fetal sex and cellular location. Placentae of female fetuses had higher GRα-A and GRP expression in the cytoplasm than males, and GRα-C was more highly expressed in the nucleus of females than that in males. Dexamethasone significantly increased the cytoplasmic expression of GRα-A, but reduced the expression of GRα-C in placentae of males. Dexamethasone increased the expression of the GRα-C-regulated genes and , particularly in females. The cleaved caspase-3 staining in placental sections indicated GRα-C may mediate sex differences in dexamethasone-induced apoptosis. These findings may underlie the sex-specific placental adaptations that regulate different growth profiles in males and females and different risks for programmed disease outcomes in offspring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/JOE-17-0171DOI Listing
August 2017

Review: Placental derived biomarkers of pregnancy disorders.

Placenta 2017 06 16;54:104-110. Epub 2017 Jan 16.

School of Medical Science, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Pregnancy is one of the greatest physiological challenges that a women can experience. The physiological adaptations that accompany pregnancy may increase the risk of developing a number of disorders that can lead to both acute and chronic physiological outcomes. In addition, fetal development may be impaired and, if the fetus survives, the child may be at an increased risk of disease throughout life. Pregnancy disorders are poorly predicted by traditional risk factors and maternal history alone. The identification of biomarkers that can predict incidence and severity of disease would allow for improved and targeted prophylactic therapies to prevent adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Many of these pregnancy disorders, including preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes mellitus and preterm birth are known to be regulated at least in part by poor trophoblast invasion and/or dysregulated placental function. Cellular stress within the placenta increases the release of a number of factors into the maternal circulation. While many of these factors minimally impact maternal biology, others affect key physiological systems and contribute to disease. Importantly, these factors may be detected in physiological fluids and have predictive capacity making them ideal candidates as biomarkers of pregnancy disorders. This review will discuss what is known about these placental derived biomarkers of pregnancy disorders and highlight potential clinical opportunities for disease prediction and diagnosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2017.01.119DOI Listing
June 2017

Review: Effects of maternal micronutrient supplementation on placental function.

Placenta 2017 06 20;54:38-44. Epub 2016 Dec 20.

School of Medical Science, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus Southport, Queensland, Australia.

Pregnancy is a physiological challenge that may require additional nutritional support. Suboptimal micronutrient intakes and micronutrient deficiencies during pregnancy are a global problem, often leading to poor maternal and child outcomes. Micronutrient supplementation is commonly recommended during pregnancy to support and enhance maternal metabolism. Recent studies suggest that the use of multiple micronutrient supplements may be of benefit during a normal pregnancy and may significantly reduce the risk of preeclampsia, preterm delivery, gestational diabetes, and improve pregnancy outcomes. Given the crucial role that the placenta plays in mediating pregnancy outcomes, it is important to consider the impact of micronutrient supplementation on the mechanisms associated with placental function, as well as maternal and fetal homeostasis. This review will consider the role of key micronutrients in supporting pregnancy and the possible mechanisms by which multiple micronutrients influence placental function and modulate placental oxidative stress and inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2016.12.022DOI Listing
June 2017