Assisted reproductive techniques alter the expression of genes that are important for metabolism

Genes7/28/09, Portland, OR. Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that assisted reproductive techniques alter the expression of genes that are important for metabolism and the transport of nutrients in the placenta of mice. The results underscore the need for greater understanding of the long-term effects of new assisted reproductive techniques in humans.

Millions of children, comprising roughly 1-2% of all births in the U.S. and Europe, have been born to couples experiencing fertility problems through the use of assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, relatively little research has been conducted to evaluate the long term effects of assisted reproductive techniques. It is suggested that children born following some assisted reproductive techniques have increased incidence of metabolic problems, such as increased blood pressure, higher fasting glucose level and more body fat. Mice generated through IVF show similar problems, and new research suggests that this may be linked to altered expression of genes in the placenta that are important for fetal growth and development before birth. "Our preliminary data suggest that transfer of nutrients or growth factors from mother to fetus may be changed by assisted reproductive techniques, and this change may contribute to increased body weight and decreased glucose tolerance in the adult offspring", said the lead author of the study, Kellie Tamashiro.

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