Research across specialties is both fascinating and fruitful. Much research is done within separate silos, where even-trained researchers have a harder time looking beyond the paradigms of the time. Translational research has always been our strategy with this collaboration as the latest example. Of course, this is high risk / high gain, but we are optimistic and very grateful that the Lundbeck Foundation has dared to take this chance,”says professor Hans Bisgaard, PI on COPSYCH programme
COPSYCH (COpenhagen Prospective Study on Neuro-PSYCHiatric Development) is a Danish multidisciplinary, translational alliance between Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) and Center for Clinical Intervention and Neuropsychiatric Schizophrenia Research (CINS). The project was initiated in 2018 with financial support from the Lundbeck Foundation of 27 million d.kr.
The aim is to investigate the effect of early life exposures on brain development, cognitive function and psychopathological traits. The alliance is based on the prospective COPSAC2010 cohort consisting of 700 mothers and their children. The mothers were randomized to supplementation with n-3 LCPUFA, vitamin D, or placebo during 3rd trimester of pregnancy. The n-3 LCPUFA supplementation led to a 30% decreased risk of asthma and respiratory infections in the children and improved the gross motor and cognitive development in the boys. Vitamin D supplementation also led to a reduced asthma risk and attenuated the children’s susceptibility to systemic low-grade inflammation in early life.
It is our hypothesis that micronutrients such as n-3 LCPUFA and vitamin D, and other early exposures in terms of infections and microbiota can induce a low-grade inflammatory state in children, and thus influence the development of a healthy brain.
The COPSYCH project includes a comprehensive 10 year’s visit with thorough examination of brain development, structure and function including in-depth neuropsychiatric evaluation with cognitive tests, magnetic resonance brain scans and assessment of psychiatric symptoms of all 700 children in the COPSAC2010 cohort. Furthermore, we will analyze the immunological and metabolic profiles in the mother and the child. This will be compared to longitudinally collected data both from the mother during pregnancy and from the children throughout childhood, which provide a unique resource to reveal causal risk factors.
The perspective is, that such insights will open for potential therapeutic targets for prevention of brain developmental and functional disorders, as well as psychopathological symptoms. Thereby, the results of this project may have direct impact on children’s brain health.