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Eating patterns in pregnancy: unraveling the underlying neurocircuits and its deleterious metabolic consequences

Project description

Brain connections and eating patterns during pregnancy

Women undergo remarkable changes during pregnancy, including alterations in taste perception and nutrient preference that result in frequent food cravings. Scientists of the EU-funded NEUROPREG project plan to investigate if these pregnancy-related changes are due to modifications in neuronal connections of the brain regions implicated in taste and ingestion. Using cutting-edge methodologies, they will decipher neuronal circuits and gene expression profiles during gestation and evaluate their effects on offspring metabolic health. The project's significance extends beyond pregnancy and may lead to the design of new preventive strategies to control disturbed eating patterns and obesity.

Objective

Pregnancy entails remarkable whole-body biological adaptations. Extensive evidence in humans shows significant alterations in taste perception and nutrient preference throughout pregnancy, resulting in frequent food cravings with a recurrent search for high-caloric, high-palatable foods. However, the underlying neurocircuits implicated in specific pregnancy-related eating disturbances are still unknown. In line with that, the project hypothesizes that pregnancy modifies the neuroconnectome of critical brain regions implicated in taste and ingestive behavior, altering maternal dietary preferences and habits favoring the consumption of high-palatable food. The persistence of abnormal dietary patterns, in the prevailing western life-style, may underlie serious detrimental metabolic and neuropsychological outcomes in both mothers and offspring that often lead to eating disorders and obesity vulnerability. The project aims to use a combination of cutting-edge methodologies in the mouse, including behavioral, whole-brain imaging, chemogenetics, and fiber photometry to establish the genetic and neurocircuits underlying pregnancy-related eating behaviors and its effects on offspring's metabolic health. The present proposal will provide novel insights on the link between specific physiological conditions (gestation), feeding neurocircuits and behavior as well as transgenerational metabolic and neuropsychological impact, unraveling new preventive strategies (nutritional and healthier lifestyle) to control the rising incidences of “food addiction”, disturbed eating patterns, and obesity predisposition. Ultimately, the knowledge generated by NEUROPREG can reduce overall costs in obesity and related disorders, that consumes more than $1.2 trillion of the global health system every year. My outstanding scientific experience in neuroscience and maternal influences on offspring metabolic outcomes make me the ideal candidate to develop this MSCA.

Coordinator

FUNDACIO DE RECERCA CLINIC BARCELONA-INSTITUT D INVESTIGACIONS BIOMEDIQUES AUGUST PI I SUNYER
Net EU contribution
€ 160 932,48
Address
CARRER ROSSELLO 149
08036 Barcelona
Spain

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Region
Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Research Organisations
Links
Total cost
€ 160 932,48