PhD student Kendra Brett is lead author on a paper, “Prenatal physical activity and diet composition affect the expression of nutrient transporters and mTOR signaling molecules in the human placenta,” that was recently published in Placenta. Citation details and a summary of the paper are below.
K.E. Brett, Z.M. Ferraro, M. Holcik, K.B. Adamo. Prenatal physical activity and diet composition affect the expression of nutrient transporters and mTOR signaling molecules in the human placenta. Placenta xxx (2014) 1-9.
ABSTRACT: Introduction. Adequate nutrient delivery to the fetus is essential for optimal growth. Differences in prenatal physical activity level and diet quality influence maternal energy balance and these factors may alter placental nutrient transport. We investigated the associations between meeting physical activity guidelines and the quality of maternal diet on the expression of genes involved in fatty acid, amino acid and glucose transport, and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and insulin signaling in the placenta from 16 term pregnancies. Methods. Physical activity was directly measured with accelerometry, diet composition was assessed with 24 h dietary recalls, and gene expression was measured with custom polymerase chain reaction (PCR) arrays. Results. Women who met physical activity guidelines had lower gene expression of fatty acid transport protein 4 (FATP4), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), and the beta non-catalytic subunit of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and a higher expression of SNAT2. There was a strong positive correlation observed between total sugar intake and glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) (r = 0.897, p = 0.000, n = 12), and inverse correlations between total sugar and mTOR and IGF1expression. Percentage of total calories from protein was inversely related to insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor(IGF1R) (r = −0.605, p = 0.028, n = 13). Discussion. Variations in maternal physical activity and diet composition altered the expression of genes involved in fatty acid, amino acid and glucose transport and mTOR signaling. Future research on placental nutrient transport should include direct measures of maternal PA and dietary habits to help eliminate confounding factors.