PerspectiveMicrobiology

Maternal microbial molecules affect offspring health

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Science  28 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6481, pp. 978-979
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba7673

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Summary

The early-life period is a critical time: Events that affect fetal development can have lifelong implications. Subtle disturbances during human fetal development affect not only major developmental outcomes, but also phenotypes that may not manifest for decades, such as risk of cardiometabolic disease (1). Despite this, pregnancy remains a poorly understood physiologic state, and there is relatively little mechanistic knowledge of how the maternal environment affects future disease risk. Studies suggest that maternal microbiota influence cardiometabolic disease risk in offspring; however, the mechanisms underlying this relationship are elusive. On page 1002 of this issue, Kimura et al. (2) find that, in mice, maternal diet and consequent gut microbiota–derived propionate protects against future obesity and metabolic dysregulation in offspring.

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