Effect of maternal protein and vitamin B12 supplementation on placental epigenetics

Project Lead
Dr. Arpita Mukhopadhyay
Source of Funding
Department of Biotechnology, India

In India and other developing countries, the incidence of poor fetal growth is unacceptably high. Previous work from our centre has demonstrated that vitamin B12 deficiency exists in pregnant Indian women, and that the risk of delivering a low birth weight (LBW) baby increases as vitamin B12 deficiency enhances.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for methyl group production, hence methylation reactions. These are facilitated by the incorporation and transfer of methyl groups through the methionine transmethylation pathway. The mechanism by which vitamin B12 deficiency may operate is thought to be through epigenetic phenomena which can be examined in placental specimens.

In the current proposal, we intend to address the following questions: a) What is the effect of maternal vitamin B12 status on placental epigenetics (DNA methylation and subsequently, gene expression)? and b) What is the extent to which these epigenetic changes mediate the effect of maternal dietary perturbations on birth outcomes? Since placenta is the gateway of the fetus to the external environment including the mother’s nutritional status, answers to these questions will provide mechanistic insights into the relation between maternal dietary deficiencies (of macro- and micronutrients) and adverse pregnancy outcome.