Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
Associate Member, Pediatrics
Canada Research Chair, Perinatal Programming
905-525-9140 ext. 22250
Visit Deb Sloboda's webpage
- Perinatal programming
There is now no doubt that events
occurring before birth influence weight gain, deposition of body fat and
metabolic function during childhood and beyond. The increase in
childhood obesity in recent decades has been more rapid than can be
explained purely by genetic susceptibility or diet. Poor maternal
nutrition and maternal stress both have long-term effects on offspring
growth and development and increase risk of disease in adulthood. Recent
studies also highlight the impact that early life events have on later
reproductive function. Over the past century, the average age at which
girls have their first menstrual period (the age at menarche) has
advanced considerably. New evidence, across a number of populations,
suggests that nutrition before and in the period following birth
influences the processes leading to reproductive maturity.
Sloboda's laboratory investigates the impact of poor maternal nutrition
on the developing fetus and how it influences the risk of
non-communicable disease later in life. Her experimental studies
investigate the effects of maternal nutrient manipulation combined with a
changing postnatal diet on pubertal onset, ovarian development and
maturation, metabolic function and the role of underlying epigenetic
processes. Dr Sloboda's laboratory seeks to understand the relationship
between maternal nutrition and offspring phenotype, investigating how
maternal nutritional history influences placental development and how
altered placental development and function contributes to altered
offspring phenotype. Her recent work has expanded to include circadian
biology and the understanding of how the intrauterine environment
influences circadian regulation in the offspring.
her PhD in Physiology at the University of Toronto Dr Sloboda was
awarded the Forrest Fetal Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Women's and
Infants' Research Foundation, at The University of Western Australia. In
2006 she joined The Liggins Institute at The University of Auckland
where she investigated the effects of maternal high fat nutrition on
maternal care and associated changes in reproductive function in
offspring and grand-offspring. From 2008-2011 Dr Sloboda was the Deputy
Director of the National Research Centre for Growth and Development at
the University of Auckland. She is a member of the Executive Council of
the Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)
and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental Origins of
Health and Disease. She also holds cross appointments in the Depts of
Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics at McMaster.
Potential Graduate Student Projects
- Maternal nutritional compromise: effects on offspring ovarian clock gene signalling
- Role of melatonin in regulating reproductive and metabolic function in programmed animals
- Maternal obesity and offspring reproductive and metabolic outcome
- Vickers MH and Sloboda DM. (2012) Leptin as mediator of the effects of developmental programming. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. In press
- Connor, KL, Vickers MH, Meaney M, Beltrand J and Sloboda DM (2012). Nature, nurture or nutrition? Impact of maternal nutrition on maternal care, offspring development and reproductive function. Journal of PhysiologyMar 12. [Epub ahead of print].
- Beltrand J, Sloboda DM, Connor KL, Truong M and Vickers MH. (2012). The effect of neonatal leptin antagonism in male rat offspring is dependent upon prior maternal nutritional status and post-weaning diet. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 2012: 296935. Epub 2012 Apr 2.
- Howie, GJ, Sloboda DM,
Vickers MH. (2011). Maternal undernutrition during critical windows of
development results in differential and sex specific effects on
postnatal adiposity and related metabolic profiles in adult rat
offspring. British Journal of Nutrition Oct 11: 1-10.
- Dudley K, Sloboda DM,
Connor KL, Beltrand J, and Vickers MH (2011) Offspring of mothers fed a
high fat diet during pregnancy and lactation display hepatic cell-cycle
inhibition and associated changes in gene expression and DNA
methylation PLoS ONE; 6(7):e21662.
- Braun T, Li S, Moss TJM, Connor KL, Doherty DA, Newnham JP, Challis JRG and Sloboda DM (2011) Differential expression of prostaglandin H synthase type 2 in
sheep placentome subtypes after betamethasone treatment late in
gestation. Placenta 32(4):295-303.
- Vickers MH, Clayton Z, Yap C and Sloboda DM (2011) High fructose intake during pregnancy leads to altered placental
development and gender-specific changes in fetal and neonatal endocrine
development Endocrinology 152(4):1378-87.
- Sloboda DM Hickey M, Hart R. Reproduction in females: the role of the early life
environment. (2011) Human Reproduction Update; 17(2):210-27.
- Bernal AB, Vickers MH, Hampton MB, Poyton R, Sloboda DM (2010) Maternal nutrition significantly impacts ovarian follicle
numbers and increases ovarian oxidative stress in adult rat offspring.
PLoS One 5(12): e15558.
- Whitehouse AJ, Mayberry MT, Hickey M, Sloboda DM.
(2010) Brief Report: Autism-like traits in childhood predict later age
at menarche in girls. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders;
- Vickers MH and Sloboda DM. (2010) Prenatal nutritional influences on offspring risk of obesity. (2010) Nutrition and Dietary Supplements 2010:2 137?149.
- Connor KL, Vickers MH, Cupido C, Sirimanne E and Sloboda DM (2010). Maternal high fat diet during critical windows of development
alters adrenal cortical and medullary enzyme expression in adult male
rat offspring. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.
- Hickey M, Doherty DA, Hart R, Norman RJ, Mattes E, Atkinson HC, Sloboda DM.
(2010) Maternal and umbilical cord androgen concentrations do not
predict digit ratio (2D:4D) in girls: A prospective cohort study.
- Hart R, Sloboda DM,
Doherty D, Norman R, Atkinson H, Newnham JP, Dickinson J, Hickey M
(2009) Prenatal determinants of uterine volume and ovarian reserve in
adolescence. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
- Sloboda DM, Howie G., Gluckman
PD., Vickers M.H. (2009) Pre- and postnatal nutritional histories
influence reproductive maturation and ovarian function in the rat. PLoS
One. Aug 25;4(8):e6744.
- Sloboda DM, Beedle A,
Cupido C, Gluckman PD, Vickers MH. (2009) Impaired perinatal growth and
longevity: a life history perspective. Current Gerontology and
Geriatrics Research 2009:608740. Epub 2009 Sep 6.
- Hickey M, Sloboda DM,
Atkinson, H, Doherty D, Franks S, Norman, R, Newnham, JP, Hart R.
(2009) The relationship between maternal and umbilical cord androgen
levels and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in adolescence: A prospective
cohort study. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism Oct;94
- Howie G, Sloboda DM, Kamal T,
Vickers MH. (2009) A maternal high fat diet preconceptionally and/or
throughout pregnancy and lactation leads to obesity in offspring
independent of postnatal diet. Journal of Physiology 587 (4): 905-915.