Washington: Gestational diabetes is
linked to serotonin -- a chemical produced by the body -- and
influenced by the amount of protein in the mother`s diet early
in pregnancy, a new study has revealed.
A team at California University has found that the
cause of diabetes during pregnancy is directly controlled by
serotonin, known as a neurotransmitter, and is influenced by
the amount of protein in the mother`s diet early in pregnancy.
According to the scientists, the discovery could lead
to simple dietary solutions and possible therapeutics for the
disorder known as gestational diabetes, which if untreated,
has serious implications for both mother and child.
"Many have puzzled for decades over the fact that
the onset of pregnancy causes a woman to double the number of
insulin-producing islet cells in her pancreas, according to
lead author Prof Michael German.
While that increase ultimately enables the mother
to control the flow of nutrients to the fetus during its final
growth spurt in the third trimester, the islet cell production
occurs long before those nutrients are actually needed.
Until now, no one has known what caused that change.
Clearly, German said, it is not stimulated by the need for
nutrients at the time it occurs, so something else had to be
Using a genomic analysis of both pregnant and
non-pregnant mice, the scientists conducted a broad scan of
all of the genes that were turned either on or off in the
islet cells during pregnancy.
At the top of the list, he said, was tryptophan
hydroxylase (Tph1), the enzyme that produces serotonin from
the amino acid tryptophan. In the newly pregnant mice, that
enzyme rose exponentially.