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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 30, 2017 PAGE 7B can By Brian Blum Pregnancy can be a stress- ful time. Now there's a new stressor and it's about stress itself. A new study On pregnant mice, published in the jour- nal Cell Metabolism, shows a causal link between prenatal stress and the onset of eating disorders--particularly binge eating disorder (BED)--later in life for the child. The study, done by scien- tists at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, also revealed good news: The re- searchers were able to prevent the onset of a compulsive eating disorder by feeding the mice a diet high in folic acid and B-vitamins. Moderate exposure to stress during pregnancy is not all negative, according to the research team led by Prof. Alon Chen, head of the neu- robiology department at the Weizmann. In fact, it makes good evolutionary sense, providing mothers with a way to communicate with their unborn offspring about the world into which they are about to emerge. Stress, for example, can signal the embryo that it will be born into an area with poor food availability and that it should slow down its metabolic rate. The problem arises when a child with such "programming" is raised in a culture with an abundance of high-calorie foods--as is the case in much of the developed world today. The mismatch can lead to obesity. Chen and his team stressed the mother mice while preg- nant. When the babies were subsequently fed a high- calorie "Western" diet, they developed an impulse to binge eat. The researchers then looked into the young mice's brains and found "large molecular differences between offspring whose mothers' stress mecha- nism was activated and those in whose mothers it was not activated," Chen said. While the DNA in the mice did not change, the expression of their genome did. One of the most important mechanisms in epigenetics (literally: "on top of genetics") is a bio- chemical process involving molecules in the methyl group that takes place in the hypo- thalamus, the brain region that regulates metabolic pro- cesses, hormone production and stress reactions. "Perhaps the most unex- pected finding in the study," said Chen, "is that we suc- ceeded in preventing the dis- order from emerging simply by providing a balanced diet of methylsources," such as folic acid,'holine, methionine, and vitanins B12 and B6. "Ibes this mean that a balalced diet would also help :ure eating disorders in humns? It is important to notethat the research was conducted on a mouse model at this stage, but all the bio- logical genes and pathways it described are shared by mice and humans." The main researcher was postdoctoral fellow Mariana Schroeder, with the participa- tion of Maya Sharon Lebow, Yonat Drori, Mira Jakovcevski, Tamar Polacheck, Mareen En- gel and Shifra Ben-Dor from the Weizmann's Department of Life Sciences. oes your Braces are often a rite of passage for middle school students with overbites or crooked teeth. But the oral problems those braces are solving likely started way back in elementary school--possi- bly as early as first or second grade. So perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children make their first visit to an ortho- dontist no later than age 7. "That doesn't mean they are going to get braces," says Dr. Jamie Reynolds, an orthodontist, national and international lecturer and author of "World Class Smiles Made in Detroit" (www.AskDrReynolds.com). "In fact, it's pretty unusual to put braces on a child that young." But with those early visits, the orthodontist might be able to head off problems before they get worse. Reyn- olds says these are a few of the things an orthodontist would be checking with your child: Are the jaws growing properly? You would think the Lpper jaw and the lower jaw ,~row pretty much in tand:m, but you would be wrorg. The upper jaw stops gro~/ng around age 8 while the 1,wer jaw keeps on grow- ing lke the rest of the body. That means orthodontists can pot problems with the uppe jaw earlier and recom- mere treatment if it's needed, Reymlds says. S there enough room for the t~eth to grow in? Some- time; permanent teeth don't haveenough room to grow in properly, possibly because a baby tooth is in the way. Gen- erally, baby teeth fall out on their own, but occasionally a stubborn one needs to be pulled so that the permanent tooth doesn't start growing in an awkward direction and become impacted. "Remov- ing a misbehaving baby tooth is often the simplest and best solution to a problem that could become much bigger," Reynolds says. Are there too few or too many teeth? One of the things an or thodontist would do when examining a young child is to make sure the cor- rect number of permanent teeth are forming. Extra teeth can be removed, but ifa child is a tooth or two short the orthodontist will wait until all the permanent teeth are in before starting any treat- ment. "Before I went to dental school, I assumed everyone had the same number of teeth--32," Reynolds says. "But it's not unusual at all to see people with missing teeth or with extra teeth." Does the child snore? Snoring is a potential sign of sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing while sleeping. It can cause serious health problems and has been di- agnosed in children as early as 4 or 5 years old. One common and treatable type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, in which the airways become partially or completely blocked by the tongue or fatty tissues of the throat. An orthodontist can widen the child's palate so the upper jaw expands, and that expands the nasal passages. It also provides more room for the tongue so it rests on the roof of the mouth and not the bottom. "Usually, orthodontists offer complimentary exams so it really is a good idea to have your child checked out by an orthodontist at age 7," Reynolds says. "The odds are that no treatment will be necessary. But if problems are starting to develop, early detection could make a big difference." By ISRAEL2!c Staff Researchers in Israel re- port they have discovered a molecule in newborn hearts that appears to control the process of renewing heart muscle. When injected into adult mouse hearts injured by heart attacks, this molecule, called Agrin, seems to "un- lock" that renewal process and enable heart muscle repair--something never seen in human heart tissue outside of the womb. These findings, published June 5 in Nature, point to new directions for research on restoring the function of damaged hearts. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. The healing process fol- lowing a human heart at- tack is long and inefficient, explained Prof. Eldad Tzahor of the Weizmann Institute of Science, who led the study to- gether with doctoral student Elad Bassat, research student Alex Genzelinakh and other Weizmann molecular cell biologists. Once damaged, muscle cells called cardiomyocytes are replaced by scar tissue, which cannot pump blood and therefore place a burden on the remaining cardio- myocytes. Heart regeneration can happen in utero for humans, but some vertebrates retain this ability after they're born. Mice hearts can regenerate only for the first week of life. Those seven days gave the Israelis an opportunity to explore the cues that promote heart regeneration. Finding the protein Tzahor and Bassat zeroed in on the surrounding sup- portive tissue known as the extracellular matrix (ECM) through which cell- to-cell messages are passed or stored. When bits of ECM from newborn and week-old mice were added to cardiac cells in culture, the younger ECM caused cardiomyocytes to proliferate. Agrin, a protein present in ECM, already was known to help regulate the sig- nals passed from nerves to muscles. In mouse hearts, levels of this molecule drop over the first seven days of life, suggesting a possible role in heart regeneration.. When the researchers added Agrin to cell cultures, they noted that it caused the cells to divide. Next, they found that mouse hearts were almost completely healed and fully functional following a single injection of Agrin. Although this recovery process took more than a month, the scar tissue was dramatically reduced, replaced by living heart tissue that restored the heart's pumping function. Setting the chain in mo- tion Tzahor speculates that in addition to causing a certain amount of direct cardiomyo- cyte renewal, Agrin somehow affects the body's inflamma- tory and immune responses to a heart attack, as well as the pathways involved in suppressing the fibrosis, or scarring, which leads to heart failure. The length of the recovery process, however, is still a mystery, as Agrin disappears from the body within a few days of the injection. "Clearly this molecule sets a chain of events in motion," Tzahor said. "We discovered that it attaches to a previ- ously unstudied receptor on the heart muscle cells, and this binding takes the cells back to a slightly less mature state--closer to that of the embryo--and releases sig- nals that may, among other thirlgs, initiate cell division." The team then proved that Agrin has a Similar effect on human heart cells grown in culture. Members of Tzahor's team have started pre-clinical studies in larger animals in Germany in collaboration with Dr. Christian Kupatt of the Technical University of Munich to determine the ef- fect cfAgrin on cardiac repair. Seleral research groups took)art in various stages of the r.search: Prof. Shenhav Cohe of the Technion-Israel Instiute of Technology and her lhD student Yara Eid; Prof.Nenad Bursac of Duke Univ,rsity, North Carolina; Jam6 F. Martin of Baylor Collie of Medicine in Texas; mermers of the Nancy and Steplen Grand Israel Nation- al C,nter for Personalized Medifine at the Weizmann Insti:ute; and Prof. Irit Sagi of the Weizmann Institute's Biological Regulation De- partment. Tzahor's research is sup- ported by the Yad Abraham Research Center for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapy, which he heads; the Henry Krenter Institute for Biomed- ical Imaging and Genomics; the Daniel S. Shapiro Car- diovascular Research Fund; and the European Research Council. CD Providing Quality Preventive, Esthetic and Restorative Management for the Oral Health of our Patient Family Dental Associates of Maitland, P.A. Bernard A. Kahn, D.D.S. GENERAL DENTISTRY 926 N. Maitland Avenue Maitland, FL 32751 (407) 629-4220 DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER