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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

East Tennessee Publishes Research on Elevated Adipokine in Breast Milk of Obese vs. Normal-Weight Mothers

A collaborative team of faculty from the departments of health sciences and biostatistics and epidemiology in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, and alumna and faculty from the department of allied health sciences in the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences at East Tennessee State University have published research in PeerJ as part of the ETSU METabolic Syndrome Working Group.  Drs. Arsham Alamian, Yongke Lu, and Jonathan Peterson from the ETSU College of Public Health along with Ms. Megan Kwon and Drs. W. Andrew Clark and Eileen Cress from the ETSU College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences co-authored “The adipokine C1q TNF related protein 3 (CTRP3) is elevated in the breast milk of obese mothers.”  The article discusses CTRP3, a hormonal factor derived from adipose tissue that has anti-diabetic properties.

To determine if the adipokine CTRP3 could play a role in early childhood development, this study assessed the presence of CTRP3 in breast milk.  The study also sought to determine whether CTRP3 levels were correlated with the obesity status of the mother prior to pregnancy (pregravid weight status.)  Breast milk was collected from breast-feeding mothers who had a body mass index classification of either normal weight or obese before they became pregnant.

The study determined that CTRP3 is present in breast milk and that CTRP3 levels are increased with pregravid obesity. Additionally, this study independently confirmed previous work that breast milk from obese mothers has a higher concentration of insulin and leptin than that of normal weight mothers. No differences were observed in breast milk between obese and normal weight mothers in other bioactive components measured during the study.

“This collaborative work was performed by several investigators of the ETSU METabolic Syndrome Working Group (METSWG). The METSWG includes over 20 faculty and student members from across the university as well as community leaders,” stated Dr. Alamian. “The group aims to pursue opportunities for research, education, outreach, and development related to metabolic syndrome and its components.”

The study identified a novel factor in breast milk (CTRP3) and showed that CTRP3 levels are higher in lactating obese mothers than in their normal-weight counterparts. Because of the purported insulin- sensitizing effect of CTRP3, it is possible that the elevated levels of CTRP3 may, to some extent, offset the negative effects of elevated leptin and insulin levels in the breast milk of obese mothers.  Future studies will need to be conducted to determine the relevance of CTRP3 in breast milk and to examine the presence of other adipose tissue-derived hormonal factors.

PeerJ is an Open Access, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal. It considers and publishes research articles in the biological, medical and environmental sciences. It aims for rapid decision making and will publish articles as soon as they are ready.