In September 2017, the FNR announced that five bilateral projects involving Luxembourg researchers were selected for funding in an international Call with French agency ANR. One of the successful projects involves the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) collaborating with French project partners to investigate the epigenetic origins of concurrent diabetes and neuropsychiatric disorders.
As part of the INTER programme, the FNR has a bilateral agreement with the ANR that aims to reinforce collaboration between scientists in Luxembourg and France. Five out of 33 proposals involving Luxembourg partners were retained for funding in the ANR-FNR call, representing an FNR commitment of a total of 1.85 MEUR.
The LIH project ‘Maternal diabetes and neuropsychiatric vulnerability in offspring: role of DNA methylation’ – or shortly MADAM – was endowed with 327,000 Euro within this INTER programme and will start in January 2018. Luxembourg lead is Dr Jonathan Turner, principal investigator at LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity, who submitted the successful project proposal together with Prof Muriel Darnaudery (University of Bordeaux) and Prof Jamileh Movassat (CNRS).
Can diabetes in the mother mean diabetes and emotional disorders in the child?
It is broadly accepted that negative early life events have consequences on health that persist through the lifespan. Recent epidemiological studies suggest that maternal diabetes has a detrimental effect on their offspring’s vulnerability to develop mental disorders such as autism or schizophrenia.
The aim of the project MADAM is to examine the links between the exposure to maternal diabetes and the development of both diabetes and emotional disorders in the offspring. There is growing evidence that disease loci are epigenetically regulated, and that epigenotypes are transmitted from one generation to the next and play a significant role in disease development.
In this project, epigenetic processes – in particular DNA methylation – will be examined in both emotion-related brain areas and the pancreas in a model of concurrent type 2 diabetes and depression.
Epigenetic changes caused by environmental factors such as early-life adversity are the field of expertise of Dr Jonathan Turner who leads the “Immune Endocrine and Epigenetics” research group at LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity.
“With this project, we hope to improve our understanding of the epigenetic origins of both type 2 diabetes and depression to be able to better prevent and treat the two associated disorders,” states Dr Turner.
This article is an adapted version of a news article published on the website of the Luxembourg Institute of Health in December 2017