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Organ-Specific Gene Expression Changes in the Fetal Liver and Placenta in Response to Maternal Folate Depletion
- McKay, Jill A., Xie, Long, Adriaens, Michiel, Evelo, Chris T., Ford, Dianne, Mathers, John C.
- Nutrients 2016 v.8 no.10
- adverse effects, diet, females, fetal development, fetus, folic acid, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, liver, males, mice, placenta, pregnancy, progeny
- Growing evidence supports the hypothesis that the in utero environment can have profound implications for fetal development and later life offspring health. Current theory suggests conditions experienced in utero prepare, or “programme”, the fetus for its anticipated post-natal environment. The mechanisms responsible for these programming events are poorly understood but are likely to involve gene expression changes. Folate is essential for normal fetal development and inadequate maternal folate supply during pregnancy has long term adverse effects for offspring. We tested the hypothesis that folate depletion during pregnancy alters offspring programming through altered gene expression. Female C57BL/6J mice were fed diets containing 2 mg or 0.4 mg folic acid/kg for 4 weeks before mating and throughout pregnancy. At 17.5 day gestation, genome-wide gene expression was measured in male fetal livers and placentas. In the fetal liver, 989 genes were expressed differentially (555 up-regulated, 434 down-regulated) in response to maternal folate depletion, with 460 genes expressed differentially (250 up-regulated, 255 down-regulated) in the placenta. Only 25 differentially expressed genes were common between organs. Maternal folate intake during pregnancy influences fetal gene expression in a highly organ specific manner which may reflect organ-specific functions.