Digestive Health Center

  • Obesity and the Digestive System

    Ardythe L. Morrow, PhD
    Professor
    Department of Pediatrics; Division of Neonatology

    Description of Research

    Dr. Morrow’s research focuses on the molecular epidemiology of human milk glycans as protective factors, and salivary glycans, as risk biomarkers in digestive diseases and child health outcomes. She leads a human milk program project designed to understand the role of innate immune factors in human milk in relation to protection against digestive diseases in childhood, including necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants, diarrheal diseases in term infants, and development of adiposity. She has shown that human milk oligosaccharide moieties, which are synthesized by fucosyltransferases encoded by the Lewis-Secretory genes, inhibit the binding of certain enteric pathogens (noroviruses, campylobacter, stable toxin of E. coli, and V. cholerae) to host cell receptors and thereby prevent diarrhea in breastfed infants. Dr. Morrow is also testing the hypothesis that these genes and oligosaccharide moieties, variably expressed in the child, also serve as biomarkers of risk of diarrhea, necrotizing enterocolitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Her program project is focused on the use of the synthesis and use of human milk glycans to prevent or ameliorate enteric diseases, and salivary glycans as biomarkers of disease. She is also working with Dr. Woo to evaluate the role of human milk adiponectin in metabolic development.

    Collaborations and Core Use

    Dr. Morrow has collaborations with Drs. Denson, Jiang, Martin, Schibler, Shroyer, and Woo to study the beneficial components in breast milk in intestinal diseases, including IBD and NEC. She has used the Bioinformatics Core for microarray chip design. Anticipated Core Use: Gene and Protein Expression, Bioinformatics, and Integrative Morphology Cores.

 
  • Research image.

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    Research image.

    Predicted WA Z-scores from cohort-specific models including the same covariates as the combined model. Figure from Breastfeed Med, 2009;4:101-9.