Contributions of Fat and Carbohydrate Metabolism to Glucose Homeostasis in Childhood Change With Age and Puberty: A 12-Years Cohort Study (EARLYBIRD 77)
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Puberty-a period when susceptibility to the onset of Type 2 diabetes (T2D) increases-is marked with profound physiological and metabolic changes. In the EarlyBird cohort, children who developed impaired fasting glycemia in adolescence already exhibited higher fasting blood glucose at 5 years of age, independent of their body mass index (BMI), suggesting that pubertal factors may modify existing predisposition. Understanding how the physiological changes during childhood influence glucose homeostasis and how the central energy metabolism may help deciphering the mechanisms that underlie the risk of developing T2D in children and adults. We investigated these associations by analyzing glycemic variations with molecular markers of central energy metabolism, substrate oxidation status and pubertal stages in the EarlyBird cohort. The EarlyBird study is a non-interventional, prospective cohort study, that recruited 307 healthy UK children at age 5, and followed them annually throughout childhood for 12 years. Longitudinal data on blood biochemistry, respiratory exchange ratio, and anthropometry, available from 150 children were integrated with fasting glycemia. The gradual rise in blood glucose during childhood associates with age-dependent changes in molecular processes and substrate oxidation status, namely (i) greater pre-pubertal fat utilization, ketogenesis, and fatty acid oxidation, and (ii) greater pubertal carbohydrate oxidation and glycolytic metabolism (Cori and Cahill Cycles) associated with different amino acid exchanges between muscle and other tissues (proline, glutamine, alanine). Since children's metabolic and nutritional requirements evolve during childhood, this study has potential clinical implications for the development of nutritional strategies for disease prevention in children.
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