Save 20% on your next Cambridge Bioethics and Law online purchase
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93139

Mother's fat can harm embryos - at least in cows

22 August 2011
Appeared in BioNews 621

European researchers have shown a correlation between impaired embryo development and the fat levels of mother cows. Exposing eggs to high levels of saturated fatty acids affected the health of embryos produced by fertilising those eggs. These findings may shed light on the fertility problems faced by women with type 2 diabetes and obesity whose ovaries are known to contain increased levels of saturated fatty acids.

'We know from our previous research that high levels of fatty acids can affect the development of eggs in the ovary, but this is the first time we've been able to follow through to show a negative impact on the surviving embryo', said Professor Jo Leroy of the University of Antwerp, Belgium, who led the study.

Researchers analysed eight-day old embryos taken from cattle exposed to high levels of saturated fatty acids. These embryos had fewer cells, increased expression of genes associated with stress, and increased metabolic activity – all of which pointed towards reduced viability. This may explain why women with obesity and type 2 diabetes have difficulty conceiving, as in both conditions increased metabolism of stored fat is common, leading to increased fatty acid levels in the ovaries.

'In cows we can induce very similar metabolic disorders leading to reduced fertility in these animals and compromised egg quality in particular. This is one of the reasons that bovine eggs are a very interesting model for human reproductive research', said Professor Leroy.

Future research aims to investigate these findings in humans and determine if detrimental effects of high maternal fat levels can be detected after birth. Dr Roger Sturmey of the University of Hull, who was also involved in the study, said: 'Our findings add further weight to the public health recommendations which emphasise the importance of women being a healthy weight before starting a pregnancy'.

This study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Elevated Non-Esterified Fatty Acid Concentrations during Bovine Oocyte Maturation Compromise Early Embryo Physiology
PLoS One |  17 August 2011
Embryo development 'negatively impacted on' by maternal fat
International Federation for Gynecology and Obstetrics |  19 August 2011
Obesity warning issued to women wanting babies
Guardian (Press Association) |  16 August 2011
Study finds mother's fat harms embryo development
Reuters |  18 August 2011
Why obese women fail to conceive
Times of India |  18 August 2011
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
4 September 2017 - by Anna Leida 
A new imaging technique can help assess the quality of early-stage embryos...
26 March 2012 - by Dr Daniel Grimes 
A gene variant passed down from the mother has been linked to heavier newborns, according to scientists...
19 March 2012 - by Victoria Kay 
A child's body size may be influenced by genetic modifications that occur in the womb, a new study claims. Scientists found a weak link between specific DNA modifications – called epigenetic marks – present at birth and the child's height at age nine. Several news sources, however, incorrectly reported a link with childhood obesity.
4 July 2011 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
Scientists have linked a so-called ‘lean gene’ to an increased likelihood of developing heart disease and type II diabetes....
1 November 2010 - by Matthew Smart 
Obesity in male rats increases the risk of their daughters developing diabetes in later life, a study by scientists at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, has found. The researchers believe epigenetic inheritance - changes in chemical markers on genes that affect their function - may be responsible...
28 June 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
Women using assisted reproductive technology (ART) to conceive have a higher rate of miscarriage if they are overweight, say a group of UK scientists....
21 October 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Women who are overweight or obese have lower chances of successful IVF treatment, according to researchers reporting at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) conference in Atlanta, US, this week. The researchers, from Michigan State University in the US, found that women who were defined as clinically obese were up to 35 per cent less likely to conceive and have a live baby, and twice as likely to have a stillbirth, than their lighter cou...
4 January 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard 
The results of a study in Scotland have indicated that obese and overweight women have the same chance of successful IVF treatment as normal weight women. The research was undertaken in Aberdeen between 1997 and 2006, on 1,700 women undergoing their first cycle of IVF, and included...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.