It is well established that a variety of toxic insults during pregnancy, e.g., cigarette smoking, drug use, and alcohol abuse, can negatively impact maternal and fetal health and program offspring for increased risk of later life diseases. Fortunately, pregnant women can choose whether to modify these risky behaviors. Unfortunately, there is no choice when it comes to exposure to environmental contaminants; however, exercise or other interventions could provide a novel means to protect exposed parents and children from the detrimental effects.
Although the association of obesity with increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease during adulthood is well known, it is often under-appreciated that an unhealthy intrauterine environment can impose health consequences during the entire lifespan of the offspring. Our studies will provide novel insights into long-lasting health outcomes in offspring perinatally exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Our project will address two Center goals: 1) to better understand the biochemical, molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the toxicity of persistent chlorinated organic pollutants (i.e., PCBs) with a specific focus on inflammation, glucose homeostasis and insulin resistance; and 2) to develop lifestyle strategies (nutrition-based approaches or exercise) to reduce the impact of exposure to PCBs and related inflammatory insults.
Obesity and diabetes are at epidemic levels, and the toxicity of environmental contaminants during perinatal development could be a significant contributor to these trends. Our studies will provide novel information on the detrimental impact that pollutants can have on maternal and offspring health and will test whether the lifestyle intervention, maternal exercise, can attenuate these effects.