There’s no denying the power of coffee, it seems that without it humanity wouldn’t have the concentration or energy needed to tackle the complexities of the epigenome. But as researchers from the University of Florida show, with consumption comes responsibility and a molecule powerful enough to help you complete the 180 from bed to breakfast, may just be a bit too much for a precious developing embryo.
Previous studies have shown that caffeine (and nicotine) exposure in utero can alter DNA methylation, gene expression, and cardiac function for the long-term and are seen in full grown, prenatally exposed, adults.
Here’s what they found in a cardiac cell line capable of contractions (HL-1) and primary embryonic cardiomyocytes followed up with some in utero exposure modeling:
- After a 48 hour ‘bender’ there’s altered expression of structural and hormonal genes, cardiac transcription factors, and miRNA.
- in vivo modeling showed a total of 124 genes, with 894 altered transcripts.
- Exon usage was also affected, with 597 exons being changed in response prenatal caffeine exposure.
- RNA-Seq of their rodent model also showed changes in genes controlling DNA methylation and histone modifications
Their pathways were also not so surprisingly related to cardiac development and there was a global decrease of DNA methylation.
The findings leave the team concluding that prenatal caffeine exposure gives the developing embryonic heart a bit too much of a buzz.
Keep your Buzz in check at the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, November 2014