Mothers pass on disease clues, prime offspring for the environment they will live in
DHEA is a natural circulating hormone and the body’s production of it decreases with age. Men take DHEA as an over-the-counter supplement because it has been suggested that DHEA can reverse aging or have anabolic effects since it can be metabolized in the body to androgens. Increased consumption of dietary isoflavones is associated with a
Full Post: New evidence suggests preventive effect of herbal supplement in prostate cancer
When there is a threat of disease during pregnancy, mothers produce less aggressive sons with more efficient immune systems, researchers at The University of Nottingham have discovered.
The study provides the first evidence for a transgenerational effect on immune response based on environmental cues - with maternal perception of disease risk in the immediate environment potentially determining offspring disease resistance and social dominance. The results are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B , the Royal Society’s flagship biological research journal.
Pregnant female mice were housed next to males infected with Babesia microti, which is a mild blood parasite causing few symptoms, but some anaemia. The partitioned cages allowed the females to see, hear and smell their infected neighbours, but not touch them, ensuring that the disease did not spread. Researchers then measured the effect of these ‘ambient cues’ on maternal physiology and behaviour, along with the social behaviour and immune response to disease challenge in the adult offspring.
The dams (female mice that had given birth) were found to have increased blood serum levels of corticosterone after being housed next to the infected males - double the amount found in dams housed next to a control group of males that were not infected. Corticosterone is a stress hormone known to have effects on foetal and new-born development.
The offspring of the dams exposed to infected neighbours were significantly less aggressive as adults than the control group offspring. In the final part of the experiment, all offspring were infected with B microti to see if the ambient exposure affected their immunity. The offspring which had developed in the diseased environment showed an earlier onset, peak and clearance of the infection than the offspring from the control dams.
The research group in the University’s School of Biology have studied many populations of mice, and noted that aggression is associated with social dominance and territory acquisition - and consequently increased access to mating opportunities. However, studies in a wide range of species have shown that the benefits of aggressive behaviour are counter balanced by reduced resistance to disease. The results of this new study support the existence of a ‘trade off’ between social dominance and disease resistance.
“It seems that the mothers in our study are priming offspring for the environment they will live in. When the risk of disease is high, improved immunity may outweigh any costs associated with reduced social dominance.” said Dr Olivia Curno, who led the research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
“It is unlikely that mice are the only species with this fascinating ability. Therefore our work may have important implications for our understanding of epidemiological processes and individual disease susceptibility in general. Future investigation should explore exactly how the females detect disease in their neighbours and use this information so cleverly.”
The finding that mice show a stress response to other infected mice in the room suggests that the welfare of bystander animals should be considered when planning experimental work. Perhaps most importantly, the results begin to question the accuracy of the many experimental set-ups where co-housed control animals are considered “untreated”, when in fact they may be responding in complex physiological and behavioural ways to their treated neighbours.
Women who smoke during pregnancy risk delivering aggressive kids according to a new Canada-Netherlands study published in the journal Development and Psychopathology. While previous studies have shown that smoking during gestation causes low birth weight, this research shows mothers who light up during pregnancy can predispose their offspring to an additional risk: violent behaviour. What’s
Full Post: Women who smoke during pregnancy risk having aggressive kids
New research in mice suggests that high levels of social support may provide some protection against strokes by reducing the amount of damaging inflammation in the brain. Researchers at Ohio State University found that male mice that lived with a female partner before and after a stroke had a much higher survival rate compared to
Full Post: High levels of social support may protect brain during stroke
Researchers provide insight into how Toxoplasma gondii, a common parasite of people and other animals, triggers an immune response in its host. The report will appear online on January 19th in The Journal of Experimental Medicine . A strong immune response spares T. gondii -infected hosts from deadly infection-an event that may also benefit the
Full Post: Insight into how Toxoplasma gondii triggers immune response in its host
A new study in the journal Personal Relationships reveals that women prefer mates who are recognized by their peers for their skills, abilities, and achievements, while not preferring men who use coercive tactics to subordinate their rivals. Indeed, women found dominance strategies of the latter type to be attractive primarily when men used them in
Full Post: Women prefer prestige over dominance in mates
A research team led by the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology and Albany Medical College has illuminated the important role of natural killer (NK) T cells in Lyme disease, demonstrating that the once little understood white blood cells are central to clearing the bacterial infection and reducing the intensity and duration of arthritis
Full Post: Natural killer T cells play important role in Lyme disease