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Maternal one-carbon metabolism during pregnancy is crucial for fetal development and programming by DNA methylation. However, evidence on one-carbon biomarkers other than folate is lacking. We, therefore, investigated whether maternal plasma methyl donors, that is, choline, betaine and methionine, are associated with birth outcomes. Blood samples were obtained from 115 women during gestation (median 26·3 weeks, 90 % range 22·7–33·0 weeks). Plasma choline, betaine, methionine and dimethylglycine were measured using HPLC-tandem MS. Multivariate linear and logistic regression models were used to estimate the association between plasma biomarkers and birth weight, birth length, the risk of small-for-gestational-age and large-for-gestational-age (LGA). Higher level of maternal betaine was associated with lower birth weight (–130·3 (95 % CI –244·8, –15·9) per 1 sd increment for log-transformed betaine). Higher maternal methionine was associated with lower risk of LGA, and adjusted OR, with 95 % CI for 1 sd increase in methionine concentration was 0·44 (95 % CI 0·21, 0·89). Stratified analyses according to infant sex or maternal plasma homocysteine status showed that reduction in birth weight in relation to maternal betaine was only limited to male infants or to who had higher maternal homocysteine status (≥5·1 µmol/l). Higher maternal betaine status was associated with reduced birth weight. Maternal methionine was inversely associated with LGA risk. These findings are needed to be replicated in future larger studies.
Early studies have shown that some mouse cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) stored at room temperature for 24 h still retained full developmental potential. In this study, we stored denuded mouse oocytes (DOs) at room temperature (25 °C) for 24 h and activated these oocytes with 10 mM SrCl2 or fertilized the oocytes by IVF. We found that nearly half of the DOs stored at room temperature for 1 day can be fertilized normally by IVF and that two foster mothers gave birth to seven pups. Embryos from stored oocytes were cultured in CZB medium with or without 1 μg/ml 17β-estradiol (E2). The numbers of embryo that developed to morula/blastocyst stage after parthenogenetic activation and IVF were significantly increased when E2 was added to the culture (p < 0.05). These results suggest that E2 might improve mouse embryo development in vitro. The birth of seven agouti pups and their healthy growth indicated that the storage of DOs at room temperature for 1 day may be a practical procedure for mammalian reproduction.
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