Developmental programming of brain and behavior by perinatal diet: focus on inflammatory mechanisms.
Obesity is now epidemic worldwide. Beyond associated diseases such as diabetes, obesity is linked to neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression. Alarmingly maternal obesity and high-fat diet consumption during gestation/lactation may "program" offspring longterm for increased obesity themselves, along with increased vulnerability to mood disorders. We review the evidence that programming of brain and behavior by perinatal diet is propagated by inflammatory mechanisms, as obesity and high-fat diets are independently associated with exaggerated systemic levels of inflammatory mediators. Due to the recognized dual role of these immune molecules (eg, interleukin [IL]-6, 11-1β) in placental function and brain development, any disruption of their delicate balance with growth factors or neurotransmitters (eg, serotonin) by inflammation early in life can permanently alter the trajectory of fetal brain development. Finally, epigenetic regulation of inflammatory pathways is a likely candidate for persistent changes in metabolic and brain function as a consequence of the perinatal environment.
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