The long-term goal of the proposed research is to advance understanding of the developmental origins of adult disease by testing the lactocrine hypothesis for maternal programming of female reproductive tract development. Maternal influence over offspring development extends beyond the womb into neonatal life by way of nursing. For newborn mammals, both human and animal, consumption of 'first milk' (colostrum) soon after birth delivers nutrients and milk-borne factors (MbFs) to offspring that can affect the way that reproductive tissues develop and function in adults. Little is known about these MbFs and how they affect development. Colostrum and milk are produced during lactation and delivery of MbFs from mother to infant via nursing is called lactocrine transmission.The global impact of age and lactocrine signaling on uterine microRNA gene expression will be studied. We will then investigate the long-term effects of low vs high colostrum consumption on the porcine uterus at postnatal Day 14 and in the adult in early pregnancy. Finally, we will investigate whether epigenetic changes are occurring in response to age and nursing from birth by monitoring uterine DNA methylation patterns. Proposed research, using a pig model system, will extend our current understanding of maternal programming of reproductive system development by way of nursing and begin to uncover mechanisms responsible for these effects. These studies will contribute mechanistic information about how breastfeeding supports reproductive health and development of human infants. In addition, information gained from these studies could lead to improvements in husbandry guidelines designed to optimize reproductive performance in the pig, an economically important domestic animal.
Adult; Affect; Age; Animals; Barker Hypothesis; Biological Models; Birth; Breast Feeding; Colostrum; Consumption; design; Development; Discipline of Nursing; DNA Methylation; Domestic Animals; Epigenetic Process; Family suidae; Female; Gene Expression; Goals; Guidelines; Human; Infant; Lactation; Lead; Life; Long-Term Effects; Mammals; methylation pattern; MicroRNAs; Milk; Mothers; Neonatal; Newborn Infant; Nutrient; offspring; Performance; postnatal; Pregnancy; programs; reproductive; Reproductive Health; Reproductive system; reproductive tract; Research; response; Role; Signal Transduction; Systems Development; Testing; Tissues; transmission process; Uterine Monitoring; Uterus