HealthDay News — Low maternal B12 is associated with higher leptin in cord blood, maternal adipose tissue, and placental tissue, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Endocrinology.

Antonysunil Adaikalakoteswari, from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, and colleagues collected paired maternal venous and cord blood samples (91 samples), adipose tissue (42 samples), and placental tissue (83 samples) at delivery. They determined serum vitamin B12 and measured leptin levels. Human pre-adipocyte cell line was differentiated in various B12 concentrations (control, low B12, and control plus methylation inhibitor) to assess the underlying mechanism.

The researchers found that B12 deficiency was common, seen in 40% of mothers and 29% of neonates. After adjustment for likely confounding variables, there was an independent correlation between maternal B12 and neonatal leptin (P =.002). Mothers with low B12 had higher leptin gene expression in adipose tissue and placental tissue. Adipocytes cultured with low B12 and treated with normal B12 in the presence of methylation inhibitor had higher leptin gene expression.

“The leptin can increase for two reasons,” Adaikalakoteswari said in a statement. “Either low B12 drives fat accumulation in the fetus, and this leads to increased leptin, or the low B12 actually causes chemical changes in the placental genes that produce leptin, making more of the hormone.”

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  1. Adaikalakoteswari A, Vatish M, Goljan I, Saravanan P. Low maternal B12 associates with higher leptin in maternal adipose tissue, placental tissue and cord blood. Presented at: Society for Endocrinology BES 2016; November 7-9, 2016; Brighton, UK.