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The University of Southampton
Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and RegenerationResearch themes

Developmental origins of stem cell function


The Bone and Joint Research Group led by Professor Richard Oreffo, has vast expertise in bone and stem cell biology and fracture repair. This expertise is being used to determine how early development affects bone and stem cells and how this may increase the likelihood of osteoporosis in later life. This work is based on the observation that the effect of the maternal environment during an embryo's development is of profound significance for its health and disease later in life.


 We are looking at how the mother's diet during pregnancy may alter the ability of stem cells to both develop and maintain organs and tissues. We have seen, for example, that by feeding a female mouse a low protein diet during its pregnancy, the time at which bones are formed and the speed of their formation in the growing foetus is significantly altered. We have also found that bone growth in the foetus is altered differently by the mother's diet depending on the gender of the foetus. This means that the mother's diet may affect the properties of the stem cells in her offspring, which could eventually lead to organ disease.

We have shown that:


Lanham SA, Bertram C, Cooper C, Oreffo RO Animal models of maternal nutrition and altered offspring bone structure--bone development across the lifecourse. Eur Cell Mater. 2011 Nov 24;22:321-32; discussion 332. Review

Lanham SA, Roberts C, Hollingworth T, Sreekumar R, Elahi MM, Cagampang FR, Hanson MA, Oreffo RO.Maternal high-fat diet: effects on offspring bone structure.Osteoporos Int. 2010 Oct;21(10):1703-14. Epub 2009 Nov 21.

Lanham SA, Roberts C, Perry MJ, Cooper C, Oreffo RO.Intrauterine programming of bone. Part 2: alteration of skeletal structure.Osteoporos Int. 2008 Feb;19(2):157-67. Epub 2007 Aug 18.PMID:17704965

Lanham SA, Roberts C, Cooper C, Oreffo RO.Intrauterine programming of bone. Part 1: alteration of the osteogenic environment.Osteoporos Int. 2008 Feb;19(2):147-56. Epub 2007 Aug 15

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