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Cambridge Reproduction


Title: Exploring the sex-specific programming of cardiovascular disease by maternal obesity, and assessing potential interventions to the mother.

Summary: Maternal obesity during pregnancy is known to result in the development of offspring cardiometabolic disorders in adulthood, a phenomenon known as developmental programming. With the rising prevalence of global obesity, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the underlying mechanisms and to develop interventions to prevent the transmission of cardio-metabolic dysfunction from mother to child. Recent evidence suggests that the effects of maternal obesity on offspring may be sex-specific and thus considering differences between sexes is also important when designing and assessing new interventions.

Data from the Ozanne lab in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity shows that maternal obesity programmes offspring cardiac dysfunction and hypertension. Maternal exercise intervention protects against offspring cardiac dysfunction, however as it fails to prevent offspring hypertension, this may be programmed by a separate mechanism. Preliminary evidence suggests that fetuses of obese pregnancies are hypoxic, with increased oxidative stress. Thus, maternal antioxidant supplementation is a second potential intervention.

This project aims to determine the sex-specific effects of maternal obesity on offspring cardiovascular health, and investigate the effectiveness and underlying mechanisms of maternal exercise and antioxidant (CoQ10) interventions on male and female offspring.