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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 123610, 7 pages
Research Article

Periconceptional Undernutrition in Sheep Affects Adult Phenotype Only in Males

1Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
2National Research Centre for Growth and Development, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
3Waikato Clinical School, University of Auckland, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
4Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health, University of Auckland, Auckland 1023, New Zealand

Received 31 May 2012; Accepted 27 August 2012

Academic Editor: Patricia Helen C. Rondó

Copyright © 2012 Anne L. Jaquiery et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Periconceptional undernutrition (PCUN) in sheep alters fetal growth and metabolism and postnatal growth regulation, but effects on adult body composition are unknown. We investigated the effects of PCUN on adult phenotype. Singleton lambs of ewes fed normally (N, ) or undernourished before (UN-61-0 d, ), before and after (UN-61-30 d, ), or after (UN-2-30d, ) mating (d0) were weighed at birth, 12 weeks, and intermittently to adulthood. At the age of 3-4 years, body composition was assessed by dual-emission X-ray absorptiometry followed by postmortem examination. Compared with N animals, male, but not female, offspring of all UN groups had greater % fat mass (all UN versus N: versus %, ) and perirenal fat ( versus  g, ), and proportionately smaller hearts ( versus  g·kg−1), lungs ( versus  g·kg−1), and adrenals ( versus  g·kg−1). UN males also had larger testes ( versus  g, ), but UN females had smaller ovaries ( versus  g, ). Changes were independent of birth weight or postnatal growth velocity. Brief PCUN has sex-specific effects on adult phenotype, predominantly affecting males, which may contribute to adverse metabolic outcomes.