Vulnerability of the fetal primate brain to moderate reduction in maternal global nutrient availability

Iwa Antonow-Schlorke, Matthias Schwab, Laura A. Cox, Cun Li, Kristina Stuchlik, Otto W. Witte, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Thomas J. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Moderate maternal nutrient restriction during pregnancy occurs in both developing and developed countries. In addition to poverty, maternal dieting, teenage pregnancy, and uterine vascular problems in older mothers are causes of decreased fetal nutrition. We evaluated the impact of global 30% maternal nutrient reduction (MNR) on early fetal baboon brain maturation. MNR induced major cerebral developmental disturbances without fetal growth restriction or marked maternal weight reduction. Mechanisms evaluated included neurotrophic factor suppression, cell proliferation and cell death imbalance, impaired glial maturation and neuronal process formation, down-regulation of gene ontological pathways and related gene products, and up-regulated transcription of cerebral catabolism. Contrary to the known benefits from this degree of dietary reduction on life span, MNR in pregnancy compromises structural fetal cerebral development, potentially having an impact on brain function throughout life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3011-3016
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 15 2011


  • Brain development
  • Environment
  • Epigenetics
  • Fetus
  • Malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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