Background: Nutrition of the newborn during the early postnatal period seems to be of capital importance and there is clinical evidence showing the protective effect of breastfeeding compared with formula feeding on childhood obesity and its comorbidities. Infants born small for gestation age may be more sensitive to the type of feeding during lactation. Here, we aimed to analyze the impact of birth weight and the type of infant feeding on the expression levels in peripheral blood cells of selected candidate genes involved in energy homeostasis in 5-year-old children, to find out potential early biomarkers of metabolic programming effects during this period of metabolic plasticity. Methods: Forty subjects were recruited at birth and divided in four groups according to birth weight (adequate or small for gestational age) and type of infant feeding (breastfeeding or formula feeding). They were followed from birth to the age of 5 years. Results: At 5 years, no significant differences regarding anthropometric parameters were found between groups, and all children had normal biochemical values. Expression levels of UCP2 and MC4R in peripheral blood cells were lower and higher, respectively, in formula feeding children compared with breastfeeding ones (P = 0.002 and P = 0.064, two-way ANOVA). Differences were more marked and significant by Student's t test in small for gestation age children (P < 0.001 and P = 0.017, respectively). Transcript levels of FASN and FTO in peripheral blood cells were also different according to the type of infant feeding, but only in small for gestation age children. Conclusions: Altogether, these results suggest that small for gestation age infants are more sensitive to the type of feeding during lactation, and transcript levels of particular genes in peripheral blood cells, especially the MC4R/UCP2 mRNA ratio, may precisely reflect these effects in the absence of clear differences in phenotypic traits.
Alvarez-Pitti, J., Ros-Forés, M. A., Bayo-Pérez, A., Palou, M., Lurbe, E., Palou, A., & Picó, C. (2019). Blood cell transcript levels in 5-year-old children as potential markers of breastfeeding effects in those small for gestational age at birth. Journal of Translational Medicine, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-019-1896-1