Transmission of obesity from mother to child through microbiota transfer and impact on feeding behavior


Studies suggest that obesity could be ‘transmitted’ from mother to child. Since maternal microbiota is the main determinant of child intestine colonization, the transmission of a maternal microbiota "signature" of obesity to her child during perinatal period, could potentially affect his metabolism.  

We hypothesized that the transfer of a specific microbiota of obese mother would be responsible for the modulation of hypothalamic (HT) and brain stem neuronal circuits in the offspring and could contribute to changes in appetite regulation.  

To explore the specific role of maternal microbiota and minimize confounding factors such as metabolic status and genetic determinism of obesity, we chose to realize a vertical transfer of fecal, vaginal and milk microbiota obtained from obese prone or obese resistant dams under high-energy diet into newborn from chow fed Fisher dams, from the day of birth to 15 days of life. Microbiota are collected at the end of the gestation and during lactation period from the OP and OR dams. The colonized pups are then used to demonstrate the impact of maternal obesity-associated microbiota on HT and/or dorsal ventral complex (DVC) neurodevelopment and eating behavior in offspring.  

The relationship between abundance and diversity of these obese or non-obese fecal, vaginal and milk microbiotas and markers of altered brain development and feeding behavior will be analyzed in order to identify responsible bacterial species/genes candidate(s).  

The project significance arises from gaining insight into whether microbiota or probiotic could eventually be considered as a tool to treat child obesity.

Project Updates

Initial results

We demonstrated a difference in the weight gain of microbiota donors with OP rats above the OR when both groups of rats are placed under HFD prior to reproduction and up to the low setting. This weight increase is accompanied by plasma hyperleptinemia and higher plasma insulin concentration in the Group of OP rats. Collection of microbiota for transfer to Fisher rats and further characterization of these inoculates by 16s and shot-gun analysis has been achieved.

Oral administration of inoculates containing vaginal microbiota, microbiota of milk, and fecal microbiota isolated from Sprague-Dawly rats "Obeses prone" or "obese resistant" and transmitted to Fisher rats raised under their mother had a low impact on initial growth and weight gain before weaning. It is noted later, during a 10-day feeding period with a HFD diet a significant increase in the weight gain of Fisher-OP animals.

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