A lipid metabolite called 12,13-diHOME is found in breast milk and appears to be linked to beneficial weight gain and body composition in the child in the early postnatal period. In addition, maternal fitness, especially exercise, appears to increase the metabolite level in breast milk and could thus benefit her offspring. This finding was published online by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The authors of the study suggest that 12,13-diHOME, as well as metabolites of linked signaling pathways from breast milk, have a protective effect against the development of obesity in offspring. They also suggest that a single bout of maternal exercise can increase metabolite levels in breast milk and translate into benefits for the offspring in terms of healthy growth and development.
The metabolite is obtained naturally from food directly from linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid (omega-6) found in many vegetable oils, as well as in nuts and seeds.
The research was led by Dr. Elvira Isganaitis of the Joslin Diabetes Center, a doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. and David Fields PhD, Associate Professor and CHF Chickasaw Nation Endowed Chair of Pediatric Diabetes at the Health Sciences Center of the University of Oklahoma.
“Although breast milk has long been promoted to reduce the risk of obesity in children, the data are not entirely consistent,” said Dr. Isganaitis. “The literature is contradicting itself and in many cases the protective effects of breastfeeding disappear after maternal factors such as education, obesity, smoking or socio-economic status are taken into account.”
“We suggest that differences in milk composition between mothers may explain some of the discrepancies observed in childhood obesity and diabetes risk. In other words, some mothers may have larger amounts of protective factors in their milk. “
The main focus of the overall study was on a prospective cohort study in which 58 mother-singleton-infant pairs that were recruited in the period 2015-2019 took part. The infants were examined for various anthropometric parameters related to growth and body composition over a period of six months after follow-up.
Meanwhile, during the same study period, the mothers provided breast milk samples that were analyzed using a variety of techniques, including targeted mass spectrometry, lipidomics, and metabolomics. In a separate part of the study, the authors recruited 16 mother-child pairs as pilots in order to evaluate the effects of a mild training session on the milk yield of 12,13-diHOME.
In addition to identifying 12,13-diHOME in breast milk, possibly for the first time, the authors report that the frequency of the metabolite at birth was positively associated with BMI, but negatively associated with various measures of obesity, BMI, and fat mass 6 was months after birth. Crucially, they also identify largely the same patterns in metabolites by the same biosynthetic pathway, which supports the observations made with regard to 12,13-diHOME.
All of the metabolites that they identify are involved in what is known as the “tanning” or “beige” of fat cells, which is a process associated with increased energy expenditure in adipose tissue and related to the thought that infants should have higher levels of metabolites to benefit from healthier growth patterns (and possibly avoid obesity in children).
For the smaller pilot study supported by the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center, the authors found that 1 month after birth, the total increase in 12,13-diHOME in milk after 90 minutes of acute exercise was 1.39-fold. The eight normal weight volunteers saw a 1.50-fold gain, while the eight obese subjects saw a 1.32-fold gain after exercise.
“Although the underlying biological mechanisms are currently unclear, it appears that breast milk contains metabolites that are associated with increased energy expenditure but also influenced by a single exposure – this is inevitably exciting in this area,” said Dr. Fields.
Regarding the impact, Dr. Isganaitis added, “The fact that exercise resulted in measurable differences in the composition of breast milk adds to the growing literature on the multitude of effects exercise has on the human body. The exciting consequence for new parents is that not only can a mother improve her own health while exercising, but it can also have metabolic benefits for her child. “
The authors point out some limitations in the study, not least that the design excludes definitive evidence of the causality between 12,13-diHOME and obesity in infants.
Wolfs D., Lynes MD, Tseng YH, et al. Brown Fat-Activating Lipokine 12,13-diHOME in breast milk is associated with obesity in infants. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2020; (dgaa799). doi: 10.1210 / clinem / dgaa799
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