Binge eating (BE) is a common aberrant form of eating behavior, characterized by overconsumption of food in a brief period of time. Recurrent episodes of BE constitute the BE disorder, which mostly affects females and is associated with early-life adversities.
Here, we show that corticotropin releasing factor (CRF)-induced prenatal stress (PNS) in late gestation predisposes female offspring to BE-like behavior that coincides with hypomethylation of hypothalamic miR-1a and downstream dysregulation of the melanocortin system through Pax7/Pax3.
Moreover, exposing the offspring to a methyl-balanced diet during adolescence prevents the dysregulation and predisposition from being triggered.
We demonstrate that gestational programming, per se, will not lead to BE-like behavior, but pre-existing alterations due to prenatal programming are revealed only when challenged during adolescence.
We provide experimental evidence for long-term epigenetic abnormalities stemming from PNS in predisposing female offspring to BE disorder as well as a potential non-invasive prevention strategy.
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