The role of maternal exercise on microbiota and inflammation in pregnant dams and their offspring
The prevalence of childhood obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease is increasing at alarming rates. Recent studies suggest that unfavorable gut microbiota and chronic low-grade inflammation in obese mothers before pregnancy, during gestation and lactation may link to metabolic diseases in offspring. Colonization of gastrointestinal tract starts as early as in utero, which implicates that offspring born form obese mothers have different bacterial population that may be prone to obese in later life. Thus, introducing an intervention before conception and during pregnancy has become a prevailing public health strategy to prevent childhood obesity and associated metabolic disorders in adulthood. Exercise has been shown to elicit positive effects on metabolism and modifies microbiota population. Despite positive health outcomes of exercise, little is known how maternal exercise impacts the health of offspring with an emphasis on microbiota and inflammation linked to maternal obesity. The long term goal of this project is to understand the mechanisms underlying the potential beneficial effects of maternal exercise on the life-long metabolic consequences of offspring. Our overarching hypothesis is that maternal exercise before and during pregnancy would alter unfavorable gut microbiota associated with maternal obesity in pregnant dams and offspring. We will test these hypotheses by the following specific aims: 1) To determine whether maternal exercise can alter microbiota (bacteria and fungi) in pregnant dams, and 2) To determine whether maternal exercise improves inflammatory status in pregnant dams and offspring born from obese mothers. Gut microbiota and inflammation have been shown to be highly associated with metabolic dysfunction in obesity. The results of this proposed study will provide preliminary data for several extramural grant applications and further provide new intervention for preventing childhood obesity. This proposal is a new direction for my research and collaborating Dr. Lee from Biology department will strengthen cross-disciplinary research partnerships.