UNESCO Code: 241108
Intrauterine Development, Lipid Metabolism, Placenta, Gestational Diabetes, Adipocytokines, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Epigenetics
Relevant characteristics of the research group (description of the group's activity):
Gestation is a period in which important metabolic changes occur in the mother, aimed at guaranteeing the supply of the energetic, structural and endocrine substrates necessary not only for foetal development, but also for neonatal development. The correct regulation of all these processes is key to avoid the existence of alterations in growth patterns, leading to risk situations for the newborn. Likewise, based on the history of foetal programming and epigenetic studies, it is essential to prevent the metabolic alterations that arise during intrauterine development from making the individual more susceptible to the appearance of pathologies such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, among others, in the long term. Studies carried out in recent years by the Perinatal Biochemistry Group have helped to clarify the important role that lipids play in metabolic regulation during gestation, and to establish the relationship between defects in maternal-fetal lipid interactions with alterations in intrauterine growth that lead to excessive accumulation of body fat, macrosomia, intrauterine delay or prematurity, among others. Diet is key to obtaining essential lipids (vitamins and fatty acids), and during gestation its composition becomes a determining tool in the regulation of the expression and activity of numerous enzymes.
The group's current lines of research are as follows:
- The characterisation of the regulatory mechanisms of the activity of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and other lipases involved in guaranteeing the availability of lipids for foetal development.
- The analysis of the role of changes in dietary lipid composition (fatty acids and vitamins) on maternal-fetal metabolic regulation, and their pathological consequences.
- The study of the long-term epigenetic effects of changes in the lipid composition of the diet during gestation.
- The examination of the relationship between the lipid component of the diet and proper postnatal development in preterm infants.