Premature brain aging in baboons resulting from moderate fetal undernutrition

Katja Franke, Geoffrey D. Clarke, Robert Dahnke, Christian Gaser, Anderson H. Kuo, Cun Li, Matthias Schwab, Peter W. Nathanielsz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Contrary to the known benefits from a moderate dietary reduction during adulthood on life span and health, maternal nutrient reduction during pregnancy is supposed to affect the developing brain, probably resulting in impaired brain structure and function throughout life. Decreased fetal nutrition delivery is widespread in both developing and developed countries, caused by poverty and natural disasters, but also due to maternal dieting, teenage pregnancy, pregnancy in women over 35 years of age, placental insufficiency, or multiples. Compromised development of fetal cerebral structures was already shown in our baboon model of moderate maternal nutrient reduction. The present study was designed to follow-up and evaluate the effects of moderate maternal nutrient reduction on individual brain aging in the baboon during young adulthood (4-7 years; human equivalent 14-24 years), applying a novel, non-invasive neuroimaging aging biomarker. The study reveals premature brain aging of +2.7 years (p < 0.01) in the female baboon exposed to fetal undernutrition. The effects of moderate maternal nutrient reduction on individual brain aging occurred in the absence of fetal growth restriction or marked maternal weight reduction at birth, which stresses the significance of early nutritional conditions in life-long developmental programming. This non-invasive MRI biomarker allows further longitudinal in vivo tracking of individual brain aging trajectories to assess the life-long effects of developmental and environmental influences in programming paradigms, aiding preventive and curative treatments on cerebral atrophy in experimental animal models and humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - Apr 11 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • BrainAGE
  • In vivo
  • Machine learning
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Maternal nutrient restriction (MNR)
  • Non-human primates
  • developmental programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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