Epigenetic effects of B-vitamins on brain health throughout life: scientific substantiation and translation of evidence for health-improvement strategies

ERA-HDHL JFA2 “Nutrition & the Epigenome” (Epigenome)
Epigenetic effects of B-vitamins on brain health throughout life: scientific substantiation and translation of evidence for health-improvement strategies
EpiBrain
2019-01-01
2021-12-31
Yvonne Lamers
The University of British Columbia
Canada

Consortium

Partner Organization Partner Country
Ulster UniversityUnited Kingdom
Health Sciences Universitat Rovira i VirgiliSpain
University of CalgaryCanada

1. Overall project description


1.1 Summary

Low or imbalanced dietary and biomarker status of folate and interrelated B-vitamins (methyl donor nutrients) perturb 1-carbon metabolism, and adversely affect brain development in early life and brain function in later life. Human studies show that improved maternal folate status during pregnancy is associated with improved cognition in the offspring, whilst optimal folate and related B-vitamin status may prevent cognitive decline in later life. The biological mechanisms explaining these relationships are not clear but may involve DNA methylation of epigenetically-controlled genes related to brain development and function. A better understanding of the mechanisms linking relevant B-vitamins and the epigenome with brain health at critical stages of the lifecycle is necessary to support evidence-based health improvement strategies.


The EpiBrain project will lead to improved understanding of the role of B vitamins, their epigenetic effects and brain function in childhood and older age, with expected results anticipated to provide scientific substantiation to support nutritional strategies for sustaining better brain health through the lifespan. The consortium, including partners from Ulster University, Northern Ireland (UU), Health Sciences Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain (URV), University of Calgary, Canada (UC) and University of British Columbia, Canada (UBC), has strong expertise in B vitamin nutrition and epigenetics and a track record of working together across our institutions in Canada, UK and Spain.


1.2 Highlights

At the 13th Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) conference, October 2019, in Dublin, Ireland, Dr Aoife Caffrey from UU presented findings from the Folic Acid Supplementation during the Second and Third Trimesters (FASSTT) Trial on "Maternal folate nutrition and offspring brain health", for which she received the DSM Bright Science Award for Innovative PhD research. Furthermore, Dr Kristina Pentieva from UU presented on "Maternal folic acid supplementation and offspring health: are there benefits beyond NTD?" as part of the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) symposium. Results from the FASSTT Trial showed that children of mothers who received folic acid supplementation in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy had higher overall cognition scores at 3 years of age and higher word reasoning scores at 7 years of age compared to the children of mothers in the placebo group. Follow-up of the children at 11 years also showed that  language processing speed was higher in girls of mothers in the folic acid supplemented group compared to children of mothers in the placebo group. 


 


4. Impact


4.1 List of publications

AuthorsTitleYear, Issue, PPDoiPdf
Cavallé-Busquets P, Inglès-Puig M, Fernandez-Ballart JD, Haro-Barceló J, Rojas-Gómez A*, Ramos-Rodriguez C, Ballesteros M, Meyer K, Ueland PM, Murphy MM* (*JPI HDHL Project Partner/Student)Moderately elevated first trimester fasting plasma total homocysteine is associated with increased probability of miscarriagehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.biochi.2020.01.008
Caffrey, A.*, Pentieva, K.*, McNulty, H.*, Gaur, P., Talcott, J.B., Witton, C., Cassidy, T., McLaughlin, M., Lees-Murdock, D.J., Irwin, R.E.*, Walsh, C.P*, Prasad, G. (*JPI HDHL Project Partner)Effect of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on brain health of the child at 11 years: the FASSTT Offspring trial (In press)

4.2 Presentation of the project

Target groupAuthorsMeans of communicationHyperlinkPdf
Scientific - March 2019Prof Column Walsh, "EpiFASSTT: Epigenetic effects on children's psychosocial development in a randomised trial of Folic Acid Supplementation in Second and Third Trimester", BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, Canada, 22 March 2019Oral presentation
Scientific - June 2019Ms. Maria Fernanda Mujica-Coopman (PhD Researcher), "Early maternal methyl nutrient concentrations and their relationship with DNA methylation of fetal growth and obesity-related genes in the offspring: results from the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study", 12th International Conference on One Carbon Metabolism, B Vitamins and Homocysteine, Spain, 9th-13th June 2019 Poster presentation
Scientific - June 2019Prof Helene McNulty, "Achieving Optimal Folate Status for Health (in European Populations): natural food folates versus folic acid", 12th International Conference on One Carbon Metabolism, B Vitamins and Homocysteine, Spain, 9th-13th June 2019 Oral presentation
Scientific - June 2019Prof Yvonne Lamers, "From possible inadequacy to excess - discrepancy in folate status and folic acid intake of pregnant women across countries and supplementation guidelines", 12th International Conference on One Carbon Metabolism, B Vitamins and Homocysteine, Spain, 9th-13th June 2019 Oral presentation
Scientific - June 2019Dr Aoife Caffrey, "Effect of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on cognitive performance of the child at 11 years: the FASSTT Offspring trial", 12th International Conference on One Carbon Metabolism, B-Vitamins and Homocysteine, Spain, 9th-13th June 2019Poster presentation
Scientific - June 2019Prof Colum Walsh, “EpiFASSTT- Epigenetic effects on children’s psychosocial development in a randomised trial of Folic Acid Supplementation in Second and Third trimester”, Seminar at the Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University, UK Oral presentation
Scientific - August 2019Miroslava Ondicova, “A randomized controlled trial of folic acid intervention in pregnancy highlights a putative methylation-regulated control element at ZFP57”, International symposium Epigenetic Inheritance: Impact for Biology and Society, ETH Zurich, SwitzerlandPoster presentation
Scientific - October 2019Prof Kristina Pentieva, "Maternal folic acid supplementation and offspring health: are there benefits beyond NTD?", 13th European Nutrition Conference, Ireland, 15th-18th October 2019 Oral presentation
Scientific - October 2019Dr Aoife Caffrey, "Maternal folate nutrition and offspring brain health", 13th European Nutrition Conference, Ireland, 15th-18th October 2019 Oral presentation
Scientific - October 2019Dr Aoife Caffrey, “Effect of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on brain health of the child at 11 years: the FASSTT Offspring trial”, 13th European Nutrition Conference, Ireland, 15th-18th OctoberPoster presentation
Professional Practitioners, Public/other audiences, Industry/Business, Supporters, Undergraduate students, Postgraduate students, Study participants or study members, Patients, carers and/or patient groups, Third sector organisations - ongoingEpiBrain Project twitter account: @EpiBrain_JPITwitter website

4.3 List of submitted patents and other outputs

Patent licencePartners involvedYearInternational eu or national patentCommentPdf
CandiMeth softwareUU2019-2020available publicly in the GitHub repository at https://github.com/sjthursby/CandiMeth

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