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New research suggests inherited diabetes may play a role in rising rates

August 14, 2017

DNA is the primary mechanism of inheritance; kids get half their genes from mom and half from dad. However, scientists are just starting to understand additional kinds of inheritance like metabolic programming, which occurs when an insult during a critical period of development, either in the womb or soon after birth, triggers permanent changes in metabolism.

In this study, the researchers looked at the effects of a diet high in saturated fat on mice and their offspring. As expected, they found that a high-fat diet induced type 2 diabetes in the adult mice and that this effect was reversed by stopping the diet.

However, if female mice continued a high-fat diet during pregnancy and/or suckling, their offspring also had a greater frequency of diabetes development, even though the offspring were given a moderate-fat diet. These mice were then mated with healthy mice, and the next generation offspring (grandchildren of the original high-fat fed generation) could develop diabetes as well.

In effect, exposing a fetal mouse to high levels of saturated fats can cause it and its offspring to acquire diabetes, even if the mouse goes off the high-fat diet and its young are never directly exposed.

The study used mice so it's not time to warn women to eat differently during pregnancy and breastfeeding but earlier research has shown that this kind of inheritance is at work in humans. For example, there is an increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in children born of malnourished mothers.

asbmb/

The dose of vitamin D prescribed for the study - 30,000 international units per week - equals more than 20 times the intake recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture and approximately 10 times the amount in an average multivitamin supplement. The dosage is designated to safely reverse vitamin D deficiency.

If Ponda's hypothesis - that vitamin D repletion will be accompanied by decreases in blood endotoxin levels - holds true, a larger, more-extensive, 'progression' study will follow, to chart the connection over longer periods of treatment and in later stages of renal disease. "Kidney disease puts a person at significantly higher risk for cardiovascular disease, but it is often asymptomatic even as late as stage three," says Ponda. "The more definitively we can characterize renal disease, the closer we are to effectively treating both it and its comorbid conditions."

rucares/ and rockefeller