Dr Matthew Elmes
Lecturer in Nutritional Biochemistry
Matthew's research interests fall into two main areas: developmental origins of disease and the effects of nutrition on pregnancy outcome.
Current research areas include:
- Unravelling the mechanism through which maternal obesity and maternal age increases the risk of dysfunctional labour and emergency caesarean section
- The effects of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids on prostaglandin production and the timing of labour.
- The effects of maternal protein restriction on the adult onset of cardiovascular disease in the offspring.
Dr Matthew Elmes has over 10 years of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching experience and currently teaches on the following modules:
Module convenor for D21BN2 (BIOS1009) Biochemistry-building blocks of life. Module Convenor for D247N2 (BIOS4027) dietetic research project module, Contributor to modules Principles of Animal Nutrition D223N8 (BIOS2034) Fundamentals of Nutrition D24AN7 (BIOS4087), Introduction to Nutrition D21BN1 (BIOS1008), Animal Nutrition D23BN2 (BIOS3029), Fundamentals of Nutrition D24FON (BIOS4069), undergraduate research project D23PRO (BIOS3040), Systematic Review in Nutrition D24SRN (BIOS4066). Research skills in Nutrition D24RSN (BIOS4065)
Dr Elmes' current research focuses on the effects of maternal nutrition on pregnancy outcome and on the early developmental origins of adult disease. Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of… read more
Dr Elmes' current research focuses on the effects of maternal nutrition on pregnancy outcome and on the early developmental origins of adult disease. Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of premature death in the western world and saturated fat has been identified as a key factor. As a result dietary trends are changing, intakes of meat and diary products high in saturated fat are being reduced and consumption of vegetable protein and oils high in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are being increased. With a number of reports that the UK population consumes ten times the requirement of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids Dr Elmes is interested in identifying the physiological consequences of this trend. Dr Elmes has identified that increasing the consumption of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids during pregnancy significantly increases the synthesis of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones derived from n-6 polyunsaturated that regulate myometrial contractions and are heavily involved in expulsion of the fetus during labour. The current dietary trend for high n-6 polyunsaturated fatty consumption may result in an increased risk of premature birth.
Other research interests include the effects of maternal obesity and maternal age on pregnancy and labour outcome. Epidemiological evidence suggests that maternal obesity and increasing maternal age are associated with uncoordinated myometrial contractions, prolonged labour and increased risk of caesarean section. The immediate aim is to elucidate the mechanism behind dysfunctional labour in these individuals to ultimately identify biomarkers for mothers at risk of dysfunctional labour or intervention to reduce or even prevent the risk of caesarean section which is not ideal for the health and wellbeing of the mother and newborn child and a huge cost to the NHS.
Another area of Dr Elmes' research expertise is within developmental origins of disease, where nutrient restriction during pregnancy leads to the programming of cardiovascular disease in adult life of the offspring. Although maternal nutrition is well established to be key component behind non-communicable disease in adult life, the mechanisms are yet to be elucidated. It's the identification of these key pathways that Dr Elmes is investigating. Using a well established protein restriction model, to produce growth restricted offspring that exhibit hypertension in post natal life it has been established that protein restriction during foetal development impairs the adult offsprings heart to recover from myocardial ischaemia reperfusion injury. The causal mechanism behind an impaired recovery to heart attack seems to be through antioxidant processes, as the damage from ischaemia reperfusion could be reduced following supplementation with the antioxidant glutathione. Further work has also been undertaken to look at the role the beta adrenergic signalling plays on myocardial ischaemia reperfusion.