New research in mice has suggested that mothers' diet before pregnancy can "drastically affect their offspring's metabolism of key fatty acids".

The study at the Nutrition Research Institute in North Carolina found that what a group of female mice ate before pregnancy chemically altered their DNA and those with a diet deficient in flaxseed oil had weaker vascular tone.

These results could have a profound impact on future research for diabetes, obesity, cancer, and immune disorders.

"As parents, we have to understand better that our responsibilities to our children are not only of a social, economical, or educational nature, but that our own biological status can contribute to the fate of our children, and this effect can be long-lasting," said study lead Dr. Mihai Niculescu.

"My hope is that, along with many other scientists, we will reveal this tight biological relationship between us as parents, and our children, and how we can improve the lives of our children using our own biological machinery."

Researchers used blood and liver to look at polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels and the DNA methylation of a gene called Fads2, which regulates PUFA metabolism and found that in both mums and pups, flaxseed oil induced a change in this chemical modification in the Fads2 gene.

Flaxseed oil supplementation increased the methylation of this gene, which, in turn, decreased the activation of the gene in pups.

However, flaxseed oil was not the only factor with impact upon Fads2 methylation in pups as results demonstrated that regardless of the flaxseed oil intake, there was a correlation between the methylation of this gene in mums and in their pups, which suggested that pups also inherit this methylation from their mums.

For more information read the full study: Mihai D. Niculescu, Daniel S. Lupu, and Corneliu N. Craciunescu. Perinatal manipulation of α-linolenic acid intake induces epigenetic changes in maternal and offspring livers, FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.12-210724

Posted 21/09/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com