The prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States has tripled to 17% since 1980. Recent human and animal studies have demonstrated that maternal obesity increases the risk of offspring obesity, which indicate that fetal programming plays an important role in the obesity epidemic. The ultimate goal of this project is to elucidate the underlying mechanisms through which maternal obesity alters the intrauterine metabolic environment and programs offspring obesity. Adiponectin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that sensitizes insulin and regulates energy homeostasis. Blood adiponectin levels of newborns are 4-7 folds higher than that in maternal circulation. In contrast to adults, neonatal blood adiponectin concentrations positively correlate with infant body weight. Studies have shown that adiponectin enhances adipocyte differentiation, inhibits lipolysis and increases adipose tissue mass in mice. Consistent with human studies, our preliminary mouse studies showed that maternal obesity significantly increased fetal body weight. Although there was no change in placenta mass, remarkably increased lipoprotein lipase (LPL) gene expressions were observed in placentas from obese dams. Blood adiponectin concentrations were also significantly increased in fetuses from obese dams. Importantly, adiponectin gene deletion attenuated maternal obesity-induced high birthweight and placental LPL expression. Furthermore, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from obese dams exhibited remarkable high efficiency in adipocyte differentiation, while protein levels of transcription factor C/EBP2 was significantly elevated. A methylation region was identified in the promoter of C/EBP2 gene. The methylation levels of C/EBP2 promoter were significantly low in MEFs from obese dams. Adiponectin treatment increased C/EBP2 gene expression while reduced its DNA methylation in MEFs. Therefore, we hypothesize that elevated fetal adiponectin mediates maternal obesity-induced high birthweight and offspring obesity by increasing placental fatty acid transport and reducing C/EBP2 gene methylation. Studies of Specific Aim 1 are designed to determine the role of fetal adiponectin in maternal obesity-induced high birthweight and adult obesity using a series of mouse models, which take the advantage of the in-transportablility of adiponectin through placenta and create a unique model with intrauterine adiponectin deficiency.
Specific Aim 2 will study the effects of fetal adiponectin on placental fatty acid transport. A placenta-specific LPL knockout mouse model will be employed to verify the role of placental LPL in maternal obesity-induced high birthweight and adiponectin-enhanced fetal lipid accumulation. By using high fat diet-induced obese dams and adiponectin knockout mice, Specific Aim 3 will study the effects of maternal obesity and the role of fetal adiponectin on C/EBP2 promoter methylation. Overall, this project will investigate the role of fetal adiponectin in maternal obesity-programmed offspring adiposity. These studies will reveal new pathways of fetal programming that will lead to new therapeutic approaches to stop the vicious cycle of maternal-offspring obesity.

Public Health Relevance

This project will investigate the role of fetal adiponectin in maternal obesity-programmed offspring adiposity. The designed studies will reveal new pathways of fetal programming that may lead to a new therapeutic approach to stop the maternal-offspring obesity vicious cycle.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Pregnancy and Neonatology Study Section (PN)
Program Officer
Grave, Gilman D
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University of California San Diego
Schools of Medicine
La Jolla
United States
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Qiao, Liping; Lee, Samuel; Nguyen, Amanda et al. (2018) The Regulatory Effects of Brown Adipose Tissue Thermogenesis on Maternal Metabolic Adaptation, Placental Efficiency, and Fetal Growth in Mice. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab :
Qiao, Liping; Wattez, Jean-Sebastien; Lee, Samuel et al. (2017) Adiponectin Deficiency Impairs Maternal Metabolic Adaptation to Pregnancy in Mice. Diabetes 66:1126-1135
Qiao, Liping; Wattez, Jean-Sebastien; Lee, Samuel et al. (2016) Knockout maternal adiponectin increases fetal growth in mice: potential role for trophoblast IGFBP-1. Diabetologia 59:2417-2425
Qiao, Liping; Guo, Zhuyu; Bosco, Chris et al. (2015) Maternal High-Fat Feeding Increases Placental Lipoprotein Lipase Activity by Reducing SIRT1 Expression in Mice. Diabetes 64:3111-20
Li, Shuangwei; Hsu, Diane D F; Li, Bing et al. (2014) Cytoplasmic tyrosine phosphatase Shp2 coordinates hepatic regulation of bile acid and FGF15/19 signaling to repress bile acid synthesis. Cell Metab 20:320-32
Qiao, Liping; Yoo, Hyung sun; Bosco, Chris et al. (2014) Adiponectin reduces thermogenesis by inhibiting brown adipose tissue activation in mice. Diabetologia 57:1027-36
Lee, Bonggi; Shao, Jianhua (2014) Adiponectin and energy homeostasis. Rev Endocr Metab Disord 15:149-56
Lee, Bonggi; Qiao, Liping; Kinney, Brice et al. (2014) Macrophage depletion disrupts immune balance and energy homeostasis. PLoS One 9:e99575
Lee, Bonggi; Qiao, Liping; Lu, Min et al. (2014) C/EBP? regulates macrophage activation and systemic metabolism. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 306:E1144-54
Yoo, Hyung Sun; Qiao, Liping; Bosco, Chris et al. (2014) Intermittent cold exposure enhances fat accumulation in mice. PLoS One 9:e96432

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