The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

C-reactive protein, early life, and growth in the Gambia


1Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 2MRC Keneba, MRC Laboratories, The Gambia

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In recent years researchers have investigated the potential of lasting effects from early life environments on later human health and immune function. Here, we add to this growing research body (Moore et al. 2001; McDade et al. 2010), and report on the relationships between CRP and early life variables, current investment in growth, and other markers of immune function in a population of adolescent females in the Gambia.

In preliminary analysis in our sample (n=55), we find a negative correlation between CRP and ponderal index (t =-2.28, p = 0.03) and a negative trend with infant growth (p=.08), in regressions accounting for current age and BMI. Longitudinal data allows us to ask if CRP is predictive of weight or height gain over the next 6 months, and unlike studies with children (McDade et al. 2008), it does not appear that elevated CRP is predictive of growth. In Western populations the adipokine leptin has been positively related to CRP, independent of BMI (Shamsuzzaman et al. 2004). While CRP does display a positive relationship with leptin in our population, this relationship appears to be entirely mediated by the effects of BMI. Additional analysis will further explore these relationships.

There is considerable evidence connecting early life conditions to later life disease, yet it is not clear how these relationships are formed. Early life influences on immune phenotype have been postulated, and evidence for this is growing. This research suggests that birth size, and potentially early life growth, are related to later life inflammation.

Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and a Harvard University Graduate Society Summer Research Grant

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