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LA BioMed study increases understanding of link between low birth weights and obesity later in life
Date:6/21/2011

ows these two hormones influence the makeup of brain cells and how many cells we develop," Mina Desai, PhD, a LA BioMed principal researcher and the corresponding author of the study. "Our cellular makeup is akin to the foundation for a house. If the foundation isn't constructed properly, you can try and fix it but you will still have a problem. The same is true for people with fewer cells to regulate appetite and maintain stable and proper function of brain."

The new study builds on LA BioMed research, published in Brain Research in March, which found nutritionally deprived newborns are "programmed" to eat more because they develop fewer neurons in the region of the brain that controls food intake. That study suggested overeating is programmed at the level of stem cells before birth when the mother has poor or inadequate nutrition. The present results suggest that additional infant and child brain functions may be altered or impaired under conditions of suboptimal pregnancy nutrition.

Using an animal model, the researchers found less division and differentiation of the neural stem cells of a newborn with low birth weight as compared to normal birth weight. Previous studies have found a small size at birth followed by accelerated "catch-up" growth is associated with an increased risk of adult obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.

"By studying the ways in which leptin and insulin communicate with neural stem cells to divide and direct the cell fate, we may one day be able to come up with a new way to combat obesity," Dr Desai said. "We have few effective methods for preventing or treating obesity, even though it is a leading cause of death in our society."


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Contact: Laura Mecoy
Lmecoy@issuesmanagement.com
310-546-5860
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)
Source:Eurekalert

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