The impact of the parents’ microbiome on the descendants health
By Pr. Markku Voutilainen
Turku University Faculty of Medicine; Turku University Hospital, Department of Gastroenterology, Turku, Finland
About this article
Infant gut is colonized by maternal vaginal and fecal bacteria during vaginal birth. Microbial colonization of the gut starts during fetal life, although its role remains debatable. The hypothesis of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) suggests that the conditions during fetal life have an impact on the early life of the newborn and also result increased risk for chronic diseases of the offspring.
Professor Friedman has reviewed developmental programming. Maternal obesity, diabetes, and western-style diet have an impact on infant stem cells, immune system and gut microbiota. The gut of the newborn is first colonized by aerobes and facultative anaerobes, which are replaced by strict anaerobes. This modifies innate immune signalling, T helper cell immune responses, and endotoxin tolerance. Maternal obesity may disrupt normal microbial colonization and increase the risk of immunologic and metabolic diseases later in the life. Antibiotic treatment during pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity. Children born for obese mothers have lesser abundance of two families of fecal Proteobacteria. Furthermore, maternal high-fat diet causes the loss of key bacteria and decrease in bacterial diversity of the infant fecal microbiota.
Also paternal diet may have impact on the health status of the following generations. Zhang and co-workers examined the impact of unhealthy diet in animal model. They fed male rats in two successive generations (F0 and F1) with with high fat, sucrose and salt diet. The control group was fed with normal diet. The high fat-sucrosesalt diet was associated with increased aspartate aminotransferase levels in the next generation (F2). Unhealthy diet was also associated with higher body weight. In female F2 rats, the Shannon index of gut microbiota indicated significantly higher diversity. Variation in the abundance of bacterial genus was associated with liver function abnormalities. Unhealthy diet in F0 and F1 generations was associated with increased serum cholesterol and lipoprotein levels in male F2 rats.
2 Zhang X, Dong Y, Sun G, et al. Paternal programming of liver function and lipid profile induced by a paternal pre-conceptional unhealthy diet: potential association with altered gut microbiome composition. Kidney Blood Press Res 2019 ; 44 : 133-48.