Tuesday, March 12, 2013

FAQ: How does periconceptional nutrition affect a childs' health

Periconceptional nutrition or the food a that a mother consumes in the days and weeks around the time of conception has been linked to the health of the child. A recent paper in PLoS Genetics presents findings that indicate that differences in nutrition lead to epigenetic alterations, specifically an alteration in DNA methylation at regions of five genes.

The collaborative study funded by the US Department of Agriculture studied children born in the West African nation of Gambia. They found that children conceived when food is less available during the peak of the rainy season  in August and September exhibited an increase in DNA methylation.

Same Genes but a Different Kink in the Tail
While a mutation in the axin gene called axin-fused
 produces mice with kinky tails, the degree of kinkiness
varies among genetically identical littermates


The goal of the research was to identify metastable epialleles (MEs), which in mice have been shown to cause obvious  phenotypic variation among genetically identical mice. They provide evidence that MEs do exist in the human population and that DNA methylation at such sites is altered dependent on the maternal environment.

This is just the latest example of the emerging importance of epigenetics. At BMG LABTECH we understand this importance and we have applications that can be used in your epigenetics studies.

Article: Season of Conception in Rural Gambia Affects DNA Methylation at Putative Human Metastable Epialleles