Studies in animals
have indicated a link between prenatal exposure to synthetic glucocorticoids
and alterations in fetal development. Glucocorticoids program fetal
development in a way that apparently increases the risk of neurological
disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney failure
in adult life. Increased knowledge of the adverse effects of prenatal
programming of body functions and behavior will help provide new
strategies for disease prevention and health promotion.
Until now, preclinical studies on the mechanisms induced by prenatal
hyperexposure to glucocorticoids were conducted predominantly in
rodents. However, rodents are far from ideal models of primate pregnancy,
with multiple offspring and both short gestation lengths and life
time. Clearly, mechanistic studies need to be extended to species
closer to humans, since ethical constraints determine that further
observations can only remain indirect in humans.
Within the EC project EUPEAH (Glucocorticoid hormone programming
in early life and its impact on adult health) the Clinical Neurobiology
Laboratory provides for the European science community marmoset monkeys
prenatally hyper-exposed to the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone.
The expected results of this project applied to the situation in
humans are a matter of major public health and clinical importance.
EUPEAH provides the infrastructure to breed and house marmoset monkeys
and to perform multidisciplinary and strongly interconnected studies
by sharing biological material, technology, knowledge and data between
partners. The establishment of a European non-human primate bank
(EPTB) for tissues and body fluids will harmonize resource collection
and distribution between diverse research facilities. It will prevent
the duplication of collections across Europe and ultimately reduce
the number of experimental animals, thus contributing to animal welfare.
For more information please see: www.eupeah.org