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1.  Influences of Gestational Obesity on Associations between Genotypes and Gene Expression Levels in Offspring following Maternal Gastrointestinal Bypass Surgery for Obesity 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0117011.
Maternal obesity and excess gestational weight gain with compromised metabolic fitness predispose offspring to lifelong obesity and its comorbidities. We demonstrated that compared to offspring born before maternal gastrointestinal bypass surgery (BMS) those born after (AMS) were less obese, with less cardiometabolic risk reflected in the expression and methylation of diabetes, immune and inflammatory pathway genes. Here we examine relationships between gestational obesity and offspring gene variations on expression levels.
Whole-genome genotyping and gene expression analyses in blood of 22 BMS and 23 AMS offspring from 19 mothers were conducted using Illumina HumanOmni-5-Quad and HumanHT-12 v4 Expression BeadChips, respectively. Using PLINK we analyzed interactions between offspring gene variations and maternal surgical status on offspring gene expression levels. Altered biological functions and pathways were identified and visualized using DAVID and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis.
Significant interactions (p ≤ 1.22x10-12) were found for 525 among the 16,060 expressed transcripts: 1.9% of tested SNPs were involved. Gene function and pathway analysis demonstrated enrichment of transcription and of cellular metabolism functions and overrepresentation of cellular stress and signaling, immune response, inflammation, growth, proliferation and development pathways.
We suggest that impaired maternal gestational metabolic fitness interacts with offspring gene variations modulating gene expression levels, providing potential mechanisms explaining improved cardiometabolic risk profiles of AMS offspring related to ameliorated maternal lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4300091  PMID: 25603303
2.  Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 as Predictor of Body Mass Index and Dentate Gyrus Neurogenesis: Neuroplasticity and the Metabolic Milieu 
Neural Plasticity  2014;2014:917981.
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) regulates carbohydrate metabolism and promotes neurogenesis. We reported an inverse correlation between adult body mass and neurogenesis in nonhuman primates. Here we examine relationships between physiological levels of the neurotrophic incretin, plasma GLP-1 (pGLP-1), and body mass index (BMI) in adolescence to adult neurogenesis and associations with a diabesity diathesis and infant stress. Morphometry, fasting pGLP-1, insulin resistance, and lipid profiles were measured in early adolescence in 10 stressed and 4 unstressed male bonnet macaques. As adults, dentate gyrus neurogenesis was assessed by doublecortin staining. High pGLP-1, low body weight, and low central adiposity, yet peripheral insulin resistance and high plasma lipids, during adolescence were associated with relatively high adult neurogenesis rates. High pGLP-1 also predicted low body weight with, paradoxically, insulin resistance and high plasma lipids. No rearing effects for neurogenesis rates were observed. We replicated an inverse relationship between BMI and neurogenesis. Adolescent pGLP-1 directly predicted adult neurogenesis. Two divergent processes relevant to human diabesity emerge—high BMI, low pGLP-1, and low neurogenesis and low BMI, high pGLP-1, high neurogenesis, insulin resistance, and lipid elevations. Diabesity markers putatively reflect high nutrient levels necessary for neurogenesis at the expense of peripheral tissues.
PMCID: PMC4259073  PMID: 25506432
5.  Reduced hippocampal N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) as a biomarker for overweight☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;4:326-335.
We previously demonstrated an inverse relationship between both dentate gyrus neurogenesis – a form of neuroplasticity – and expression of the antiapoptotic gene marker, BCL-2 and adult macaque body weight. We therefore explored whether a similar inverse correlation existed in humans between body mass index (BMI) and hippocampal N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), a marker of neuronal integrity and putatively, neuroplasticity. We also studied the relationship of a potentially neurotoxic process, worry, to hippocampal NAA in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and control subjects (CS).
We combined two previously studied cohorts of GAD and control subjects. Using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging (1H MRSI) in medication-free patients with GAD (n = 29) and a matched healthy control group (n = 22), we determined hippocampal concentrations of (1) NAA (2) choline containing compounds (CHO), and (3) Creatine + phosphocreatine (CR). Data were combined from 1.5 T and 3 T scans by converting values from each cohort to z-scores. Overweight and GAD diagnosis were used as categorical variables while the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ) and Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI) were used as dependent variables.
Overweight subjects (BMI ≥ 25) exhibited lower NAA levels in the hippocampus than normal-weight subjects (BMI < 25) (partial Eta-squared = 0.14) controlling for age, sex and psychiatric diagnosis, and the effect was significant for the right hippocampus in both GAD patients and control subjects. An inverse linear correlation was noted in all subjects between right hippocampal NAA and BMI. High scores on the PSWQ predicted low hippocampal NAA and CR. Both BMI and worry were independent inverse predictors of hippocampal NAA.
Overweight was associated with reduced NAA concentrations in the hippocampus with a strong effect size. Future mechanistic studies are warranted.
•Overweight people show reduced concentrations of hippocampal N-acetylaspartate (NAA).•Reduced NAA reflects reduced neuronal viability.•There is an inverse relationship between BMI and hippocampal NAA.•Worry scores are independently associated with lower NAA.•Generalized anxiety disorder did not show low hippocampal NAA.
PMCID: PMC3913836  PMID: 24501701
Body mass index; Generalized anxiety disorder; Penn State Worry Questionnaire; Neuronal integrity; Creatine (CR); Obesity
6.  Methylation and Expression of Immune and Inflammatory Genes in the Offspring of Bariatric Bypass Surgery Patients 
Journal of Obesity  2013;2013:492170.
Background. Maternal obesity, excess weight gain and overnutrition during pregnancy increase risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease in the offspring. Maternal biliopancreatic diversion is an effective treatment for severe obesity and is beneficial for offspring born after maternal surgery (AMS). These offspring exhibit lower severe obesity prevalence and improved cardiometabolic risk factors including inflammatory marker compared to siblings born before maternal surgery (BMS). Objective. To assess relationships between maternal bariatric surgery and the methylation/expression of genes involved in the immune and inflammatory pathways. Methods. A differential gene methylation analysis was conducted in a sibling cohort of 25 BMS and 25 AMS offspring from 20 mothers. Following differential gene expression analysis (23 BMS and 23 AMS), pathway analysis was conducted. Correlations between gene methylation/expression and circulating inflammatory markers were computed. Results. Five immune and inflammatory pathways with significant overrepresentation of both differential gene methylation and expression were identified. In the IL-8 pathway, gene methylation correlated with both gene expression and plasma C-reactive protein levels. Conclusion. These results suggest that improvements in cardiometabolic risk markers in AMS compared to BMS offspring may be mediated through differential methylation of genes involved in immune and inflammatory pathways.
PMCID: PMC3693160  PMID: 23840945
Physiology & behavior  2011;103(5):535-539.
Obesity is associated with the insulin resistance metabolic syndrome, postulated to be mediated by stress-induced alterations within the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In adult bonnet macaques we examined relationships between components of the metabolic syndrome, hippocampal neurometabolic asymmetry, an indicator of negative affect, and juvenile cerebrospinal fluid (csf) corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) levels obtained after stress exposure associated with maternal food insecurity and in controls.
Eleven adult male monkeys (seven with early life stress) who had undergone csf-CRF analyses as juveniles had magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) of bilateral hippocampus, morphometry (body mass index, BMI; sagittal abdominal diameter, SAD) and determination of fasting plasma glucose and insulin as adults. Neurometabolite ratios included N-acetyl-aspartate as numerator (NAA; a marker of neuronal integrity) and choline (Cho; cell turnover) and creatine (Cr; reference analyte) as denominators.
Elevated juvenile csf-CRF levels positively predicted adult BMI and SAD and were associated with right > left shift of NAA ratio within the hippocampus. Adult visceral obesity and insulin level correlated with right > left shift in hippocampal NAA concentrations, controlling for age and denominator.
Juvenile csf-CRF levels, a neuropeptide associated with early life stress, predict adult visceral obesity and hippocampal asymmetry supporting the hypothesis that metabolic syndrome in adults may be related to early life stress. Furthermore, this study demonstrates asymmetrical hippocampal alterations related to obesity.
PMCID: PMC3107881  PMID: 21459102
Corticotropin releasing factor; hippocampus; stress; metabolic syndrome; food insecurity; obesity
8.  Early-Life Stress and Neurometabolites of the Hippocampus 
Brain research  2010;1358:191-199.
We tested the hypothesis that early life stress would persistently compromise neuronal viability of the hippocampus of the grown nonhuman primate. Neuronal viability was assessed through ascertainment of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) – an amino acid considered reflective of neuronal density/functional integrity – using in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI). The subjects reported herein represent a re-analysis of a sample of nineteen adult male bonnet macaques that had been reared in infancy under induced stress by maternal variable foraging demand (VFD) (N = 10) or control rearing conditions (N = 9). The MRSI spectral readings were recorded using a GE 1.5 Tesla machine under anesthesia. Relative NAA values were derived using NAA as numerator and both choline (Cho) or creatine (Cr) as denominators. Left medial temporal lobe (MTL) NAA/Cho but not NAA/Cr was decreased in VFD subjects versus controls. An MTL NAA/Cho ratio deficit remained significant when controlling for multiple confounding variables. Regression analyses suggested that the NAA/Choline finding was due to independently low left NAA and high left choline. Right MTL showed no rearing effects for NAA, but right NAA was positively related to body mass, irrespective of denominator. The current data indicate that decreased left MTL NAA/Cho may reflect low neuronal viability of the hippocampus following early life stress in VFD-reared versus normally-reared subjects. Given the importance of the hippocampus in stress-mediated toxicity, validation of these data using absolute quantification is suggested and correlative neurohistological studies of hippocampus are warranted.
PMCID: PMC2988576  PMID: 20713023
Early-Life Stress; Nonhuman Primate; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy; Hippocampus; N-Acetyl-Aspartate; Brain laterality
9.  Management: Part III—Surgery 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;333(7574):900-903.
PMCID: PMC1626278  PMID: 17068036
10.  Correlations between Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Metabolic Indices in Adult Nonhuman Primates 
Neural Plasticity  2011;2011:875307.
Increased neurogenesis in feeding centers of the murine hypothalamus is associated with weight loss in diet-induced obese rodents (Kokoeva et al., 2005 and Matrisciano et al., 2010), but this relationship has not been examined in other species. Postmortem hippocampal neurogenesis rates and premortem metabolic parameters were statistically analyzed in 8 chow-fed colony-reared adult bonnet macaques. Dentate gyrus neurogenesis, reflected by the immature neuronal marker, doublecortin (DCX), and expression of the antiapoptotic gene factor, B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2), but not the precursor proliferation mitotic marker, Ki67, was inversely correlated with body weight and crown-rump length. DCX and BCL-2 each correlated positively with blood glucose level and lipid ratio (total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein). This study demonstrates that markers of dentate gyrus neuroplasticity correlate with metabolic parameters in primates.
PMCID: PMC3151518  PMID: 21837282
11.  Characterization of Arterial Wave Reflection in Healthy Bonnet Macaques: Feasibility of Applanation Tonometry 
Nonhuman primates are commonly used in cardiovascular research. Increased arterial stiffness is a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis and higher CV risk. We determined the augmentation index (AI) using applanation tonometry in 61 healthy monkeys (59% female, age 1–25 years). Technically adequate studies were obtained in all subjects and required 1.5 ± 1.3 minutes. The brachial artery provided the highest yield (95%). AI was correlated with heart rate (HR) (r = −0.65, P < .001), crown rump length (CRL) (r = 0.42, P = .001), and left ventricular (LV) mass determined using echocardiography (r = 0.52, P < .001). On multivariate analysis, HR (P < .001) and CRL (P = .005) were independent predictors of AI (R2 = 0.46, P < .001). Body Mass Index (BMI) and AI were independent predictors of higher LV mass on multivariate analysis (P < .001 and P = .03). In conclusion, applanation tonometry is feasible for determining AI. Reference values are provided for AI in bonnet macaques, in whom higher AI is related to HR and CRL, and in turn contributes to higher LV mass.
PMCID: PMC2654075  PMID: 19283078
12.  Physiological models of body composition and human obesity 
Correction to Levitt DG, Heymsfield SB, Pierson Jr RN, Shapses SA, Kral JG: Physiological models of body composition and human obesity. Nutrition & Metabolism 2007, 4:19
PMCID: PMC2649131  PMID: 19220892
13.  Energy expenditure in chow-fed female non-human primates of various weights 
Until now no technology has been available to study energy metabolism in monkeys. The objective of this study was to determine daily energy expenditures (EE) and respiratory quotients (RQ) in female monkeys of various body weights and ages.
16 socially reared Bonnet Macaque female monkeys [5.5 ± 1.4 kg body weight, modified BMI (length measurement from head to base of the tail) = 28.8 ± 6.7 kg/crown-rump length, m2 and 11.7 ± 4.6 years] were placed in the primate Enhanced Metabolic Testing Activity Chamber (Model 3000a, EMTAC Inc. Santa Barbara, CA) for 22-hour measurements of EE (kcal/kg) and RQ (VCO2/VO2). All were fed monkey chow (4.03 kcal/g) ad-libitum under a 12/12 hour light/dark cycle. Metabolic data were corrected for differences in body weight. Results were divided into day (8-hours), dark (12 hours) and morning (2-hours) periods. Data analysis was conducted utilizing SPSS (Version 13).
Modified BMI negatively correlated with 22-hour energy expenditure in all monkeys (r = -0.80, p < 0.01). The large variability of daily energy intake (4.5 to 102.0 kcal/kg) necessitated division into two groups, non-eaters (< 13 kcal/kg) and eaters (> 23 kcal/kg). There were reductions (p < 0.05) in both 22-hour and dark period RQs in the "non-eaters" in comparison to those who were "eaters". Monkeys were also classified as "lean" (modified BMI < 25) or "obese" (modified BMI > 30). The obese group had lower EE (p < 0.05) during each time period and over the entire 22-hours (p < 0.05), in comparison to their lean counterparts.
The EMTAC proved to be a valuable tool for metabolic measurements in monkeys. The accuracy and sensitivity of the instrument allowed detection of subtle metabolic changes in relation to energy intake. Moreover, there is an association between a reduction of energy expenditure and a gain in body weight.
PMCID: PMC2621221  PMID: 19014676
14.  Physiological models of body composition and human obesity 
The body mass index (BMI) is the standard parameter for predicting body fat fraction and for classifying degrees of obesity. Currently available regression equations between BMI and fat are based on 2 or 3 parameter empirical fits and have not been validated for highly obese subjects. We attempt to develop regression relations that are based on realistic models of body composition changes in obesity. These models, if valid, can then be extrapolated to the high fat fraction of the morbidly obese.
The analysis was applied to 3 compartment (density and total body water) measurements of body fat. The data was collected at the New York Obesity Research Center, Body Composition Unit, as part of ongoing studies. A total of 1356 subjects were included, with a BMI range of 17 to 50 for males and 17 to 65 for females. The body composition model assumes that obese subjects can be represented by the sum of a standard lean reference subject plus an extra weight that has a constant adipose, bone and muscle fraction.
There is marked age and sex dependence in the relationship between BMI and fat fraction. There was no significant difference among Caucasians, Blacks and Hispanics while Asians had significantly greater fat fraction for the same BMI. A linear relationship between BMI and fat fraction provides a good description for men but overestimates the fat fraction in morbidly obese women for whom a non-linear regression should be used. New regression relations for predicting body fat just from experimental measurements of body density are described that are more accurate then those currently used. From the fits to the experimental BMI and density data, a quantitative description of the bone, adipose and muscle body composition of lean and obese subjects is derived.
Physiologically realistic models of body composition provide both accurate regression relations and new insights about changes in body composition in obesity.
PMCID: PMC2082278  PMID: 17883858
15.  Adipose Tissue Quantification by Imaging Methods: A Proposed Classification 
Obesity research  2003;11(1):5-16.
Recent advances in imaging techniques and understanding of differences in the molecular biology of adipose tissue has rendered classical anatomy obsolete, requiring a new classification of the topography of adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is one of the largest body compartments, yet a classification that defines specific adipose tissue depots based on their anatomic location and related functions is lacking. The absence of an accepted taxonomy poses problems for investigators studying adipose tissue topography and its functional correlates. The aim of this review was to critically examine the literature on imaging of whole body and regional adipose tissue and to create the first systematic classification of adipose tissue topography. Adipose tissue terminology was examined in over 100 original publications. Our analysis revealed inconsistencies in the use of specific definitions, especially for the compartment termed “visceral” adipose tissue. This analysis leads us to propose an updated classification of total body and regional adipose tissue, providing a well-defined basis for correlating imaging studies of specific adipose tissue depots with molecular processes.
PMCID: PMC1894646  PMID: 12529479
body composition; computed tomography; magnetic resonance imaging; body fat

Results 1-15 (15)