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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Epigenetic Down-Regulation of Sirt 1 via DNA Methylation and Oxidative Stress Signaling Contributes to the Gestational Diabetes Mellitus-Induced Fetal Programming of Heart Ischemia-Sensitive Phenotype in Late Life.


Rationale: The incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is increasing worldwide. However, whether and how GDM exposure induces fetal programming of adult cardiac dysfunctional phenotype, especially the underlying epigenetic molecular mechanisms and theranostics remain unclear. To address this problem, we developed a late GDM rat model. Methods: Pregnant rats were made diabetic on day 12 of gestation by streptozotocin (STZ). Experiments were conducted in 6 weeks old offspring. Results: There were significant increases in ischemia-induced cardiac infarction and gender-dependent left ventricular (LV) dysfunction in male offspring in GDM group as compared to controls. Exposure to GDM enhanced ROS level and caused a global DNA methylation in offspring cardiomyocytes. GDM attenuated cardiac Sirt 1 protein and p-Akt/Akt levels, but enhanced autophagy-related proteins expression (Atg 5 and LC3 II/LC3 I) as compared to controls. Ex-vivo treatment of DNA methylation inhibitor, 5-Aza directly inhibited Dnmt3A and enhanced Sirt 1 protein expression in fetal hearts. Furthermore, treatment with antioxidant, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) in offspring reversed GDM-mediated DNA hypermethylation, Sirt1 repression and autophagy-related gene protein overexpression in the hearts, and rescued GDM-induced deterioration in heart ischemic injury and LV dysfunction. Conclusion: Our data indicated that exposure to GDM induced offspring cardiac oxidative stress and DNA hypermethylation, resulting in an epigenetic down-regulation of Sirt1 gene and aberrant development of heart ischemia-sensitive phenotype, which suggests that Sirt 1-mediated signaling is the potential therapeutic target for the heart ischemic disease in offspring.

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