Mother-baby body clock align­ment can pre­vent heart dis­ease

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By JUDY SIEGEL

When the body clock of a baby “ticks” in step with that of the mother, bet­ter ma­ter­nal care may re­sult and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the like­li­hood of heart dis­ease and other ill­ness in the off­spring, ac­cord­ing to re­search on lab rats con­ducted by Czech sci­en­tists.

The mother-off­spring in­ter­ac­tion is very im­por­tant for health later in adult­hood, Lucie Ole­jníkova, Lenka Pol­i­darova, Michal Be­hu­liak, Martin Sladek and Alena Su­mova of the Czech Academy of Sciences wrote in The Jour­nal of Phys­i­ol­ogy.

They wrote that theirs was the first study to pro­vide com­pelling ev­i­dence that by sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing ab­nor­mal­i­ties in the cir­ca­dian rhythm of a mother, the risk of chronic dis­ease devel­op­ing in off­spring is min­i­mized. It thus may be pos­si­ble to de­velop ther­a­pies for se­ri­ous lifestyle-re­lated dis­eases, such as heart dis­ease and obe­sity, they sug­gested.

The body has an in­ter­nal clock called cir­ca­dian rhythm that reg­u­lates sleepi­ness over a 24-hour pe­riod; the cir­ca­dian sys­tem is im­por­tant so that pro­cesses in our body are syn­chro­nized with when it is light or dark out­side. Dis­tur­bances in these mech­a­nisms can lead to poor health, such as heart dis­ease.

The study, con­ducted at the academy’s phys­i­ol­ogy in­sti­tute, was per­formed in two strains of lab­o­ra­tory rats in which the ma­ter­nal care and syn­chrony of their cir­ca­dian clocks with external day/night cy­cle dif­fered. The ef­fect of ma­ter­nal care pro­vided by the ge­netic mother of these pups was com­pared with ma­ter­nal care of a fos­ter mother. The pups ei­ther had an aber­rant cir­ca­dian sys­tem and were ge­net­i­cally deter­mined to de­velop dis­ease in adult­hood or they were healthy con­trols.

The re­searchers tested the ef­fect of ma­ter­nal care on the body clock be­fore and just af­ter wean­ing and on their ac­tiv­ity rhythms, heart rate and blood pres­sure in adult­hood. Proper ma­ter­nal care pro­vided to pups ge­net­i­cally pre­dis­posed to de­velop dis­ease led to im­prove­ment of their clock func­tion and abol­ished the rise in their heart rate in adult­hood.

Su­mova noted that as the re­sults “point to a real pos­si­bil­ity” of min­i­miz­ing ab­nor­mal­i­ties in the off­spring’s body clock and there­fore in pro­gres­sion of dis­ease, “our fu­ture re­search will be di­rected at un­der­stand­ing in more de­tail how an aber­rant cir­ca­dian sys­tem con­trib­utes to the pro­gres­sion of dis­ease. We be­lieve that this re­search is worth fu­ture ex­plo­rations, as it may pro­vide novel ther­a­pies for se­ri­ous life-style-re­lated dis­eases in hu­mans.”

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