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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Academic Health Center
Masonic Cancer Center

PI: Julie A. Ross
Co-PI: David A. Largaespada

Dietary Influences on Gene Expression in Offspring

The goal of this project is to elucidate potential mechanisms whereby childhood cancer risk can be modulated by prenatal nutrition. The researchers are specifically interested in whether dietary manipulation of folic acid during the prenatal through weaning period influences gene expression in B-lineage cells (those that give rise to a common form of childhood leukemia) of the offspring. It is well known that prenatal vitamin supplementation during early pregnancy is protective against neural tube defects and this effect has been specifically attributed to folic acid. Epidemiological evidence also indicates that multivitamins and foods rich in folate or its synthetic counterpart, folic acid, taken during pregnancy may also reduce the risk of several childhood cancers. Prenatal vitamin supplementation and higher intake of fruits and vegetables (specifically folate) during pregnancy has been associated with reduced risks of leukemia, brain tumors, and retinoblastoma. The biological mechanism for this effect is unknown.

This study aims to advance knowledge about the importance of diet in the risk of childhood cancer by identifying genes in the offspring that may be differentially expressed in response to different prenatal and neonatal folic acid intake in the mother.

Group Member

Kimberly J. Johnson, Research Associate