Methyl Metabolism and Methionine Requirements in the Neonatal Piglet

Lay Summary 

The quality of nutrition that an infant experiences both in the womb and after birth will impact their metabolism. For instance, infants born at a low birthweight that subsequently catch-up are more likely to develop chronic disease as adults. These diseases include obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. In order to study this phenomenon it is important to look for nutrients that can impact growth, synthesize other nutrients, and alter gene expression.

Methionine is an essential amino acid that is used to make proteins as well as provide methyl groups; which affect long-term gene expression through DNA methylation and help synthesize metabolites that are critical for infant development. However, methionine metabolism is complex in that methyl groups from the dietary nutrients folate and choline can be used to regenerate methionine, thus increasing methionine availability for protein synthesis or methylation reactions. The dietary supply of folate and choline is largely deficient in Newfoundland and Labrador and is highly variable across the developed world.

My research focuses on the provision of methyl groups in the Yucatan Miniature pig model of human neonates. The data gathered will help define the nutritional requirements of infants as well as adults. Given the long-term consequences of methyl metabolism and the widespread folate and choline deficiencies in this province; this work could significantly lower provincial health care costs through improved guidelines of infant nutrition.

Clinical Disciplines - Laboratory Medicine
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Animal Research
Healthy Newfoundland and Labrador
Chronic Disease
Health Research
Maternal health
Industry Sectors 
Scientific Research and Development Services
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
Animal Production
Start date 
1 Jan 2010
End date 
31 Dec 2014