PLoS ONE: UCP2 Protein Is Important for Natural Born Babies Regarding to Their Subsequent Development
On the PLoS ONE, a finding regarding the impact of mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) on vaginal birth and caesarean section was published. This research was conducted by a team of Yale School of Medicine, mainly led by Tamas Horvath, the Jean and David W. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Research and chair of the Department of Comparative Medicine.
Mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the UCP2 gene. UCP2 involves in the development of hippocampal neurons and circuits, which is in charge of people’s memory. UCP2 also participates in the cellular metabolism of fat, which is a vital factor for breast milk.
The researchers explored the effect of UCP2 on natural and surgical deliveries in mice. They found natural birth triggers the expression of UCP2 in the neurons located in the hippocampal region of brains in newborns that improves brain development and function in adulthood; while this protein expression is impaired and diminished in the brains of offspring delivered by caesarean section (C-sections) as shown among mice. Knocking out the UCP2 gene or chemically inhibiting UCP2 function interfered with the differentiation of hippocampal neurons and circuits, and impaired adult behaviors related to hippocampal functions.
The experiment results displayed a potentially critical role of UCP2 in the proper development of brain circuits and related behaviors. The researchers also assumed that the increasing prevalence of C-sections driven by convenience rather than medical necessity may have a previously unsuspected lasting effect on brain development and function in humans as well.Tags: UCP2, Protein Expression, C-section, Natural Birth, Memory, Behavior Development