Evaluation of the epigenome, microbiome, and metabolome dynamics and their interaction with the adiposity increase in the maternal-infant axis

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels worldwide and represents a major public health challenge with a high economic burden associated with its treatment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 39 million children under 5 years old were overweight or obese in 2020. The causes are complex and multifactorial and involve the interaction between genetics, environmental and developmental factors, and the gut microbiota. However, it is estimated that only about 20% of obesity risk is of genetic origin. The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease hypothesis states that the intrauterine environment influences fetal development and future disease susceptibility. One of the mechanisms by which in utero exposures may induce metabolic alterations is through epigenetic alterations that in turn are influenced by environmental factors related to the mother during pregnancy such as nutrition, physical activity, or toxic habits.

The aim of this project is to characterize epigenetic alterations in the maternal-infant axis that could be related to the development of obesity and metabolic disorders in early infancy. The identification of these alterations will permit the development of personalized preventive strategies against obesity and related comorbidities. We are approaching this objective combining different omic techniques (epigenomics, metabolomics and metagenomics).