Early Life Origins of Diabetes
The developmental origins of disease theory investigates how environmental factors during early life (preconception into childhood) interact with development to shape health and well-being throughout life. Our team conducts interdisciplinary research, including clinical cohort studies and fundamental studies using animal models, that aim to understand how the early life environment influences the risk of developing diabetes.
One significant discovery by our team was that intrauterine exposure to diabetes during pregnancy increased the risk of pediatric type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Our research aims to understand the processes that contribute to this elevated risk with the goal of intervening earlier to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in youth.
Clinical Cohort Studies
Using individuals from the CONCEPTT study, CONCEPTT Kids is assessing the association between mother’s blood glucose during pregnancy on their child’s IQ, social responsiveness, attention and language scores. Recruitment is from CONCEPTT enrollment.
The Next Generation Study
Next Generation, or NextGen, is a research that studies Indigenous children of a parent who is living with type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or doesn’t have any diabetes. We want to answer important questions about why type 2 diabetes runs in some families and what risks exist. Our goal is to prevent the progression, treat early, or support families to live well with diabetes.
Fundamental Research Studies
Gestational Diabetes and the Beta Cells of the Offspring
The developing beta cell, which is responsible for secreting insulin in response to higher levels of blood glucose in the bloodstream is very sensitive to environmental exposures. This research uses a combination of rodent models, microscopy, and transcriptomics to determine how gestational diabetes affects the structure and function of beta cell development in the offspring.
Type 2 Diabetes and Kidney Disease
Kidney Disease is one of the most prominent complications of type 2 diabetes in youth. This project uses a mouse model of type 2 diabetes throughout pregnancy to determine how intrauterine exposure to diabetes affects kidney development and function in the offspring.
The Developmental Origins of Heart Disease
Individuals with diabetes are at higher risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in Canada. There is increasing clinical evidence that gestational diabetes alters heart structure and function in infants and children. Mitochondria produce energy for the heart. The Dolinsky lab discovered that in the offspring of mothers with gestational diabetes the heart mitochondria were dysfunctional and when these offspring were older they developed heart disease. Using sophisticated imaging and mass spectrometry technologies this project aims to determine in mice, how improving mitochondrial function could help the hearts of offspring exposed to gestational diabetes pump blood better.
Resveratrol is a small molecule natural health product that is derived from fruits and vegetables. This molecule has been reported to increase mitochondrial numbers and improve their function. Using mouse models, this project aims to understand whether administration of natural health product during pregnancy or postnatally can prevent diabetes development in offspring exposed to diabetes during pregnancy.
Programming of Diabetes
Epigenetics plays a big role in shaping who we are and how we grow. Our team is interested in understanding how epigenetics my be involved in the development of diabetes in youth and whether some epigenetic markers could be used for early diagnosis of diabetes