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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 2013, Article ID 517384, 11 pages
Research Article

Timing of Maternal Exposure to a High Fat Diet and Development of Obesity and Hyperinsulinemia in Male Rat Offspring: Same Metabolic Phenotype, Different Developmental Pathways?

1Liggins Institute and Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development, University of Auckland, 2-6 Park Avenue, Grafton, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
2Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4L8

Received 11 February 2013; Revised 8 April 2013; Accepted 20 April 2013

Academic Editor: Peter M. Clifton

Copyright © 2013 Graham J. Howie 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.


Objective. Offspring born to mothers either fed an obesogenic diet throughout their life or restricted to pregnancy and lactation demonstrate obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperleptinemia, irrespective of their postweaning diet. We examined whether timing of a maternal obesogenic diet results in differential regulation of pancreatic adipoinsular and inflammatory signaling pathways in offspring. Methods. Female Wistar rats were randomized into 3 groups: (1) control (CONT): fed a control diet preconceptionally and during pregnancy and lactation; (2) maternal high fat (MHF): fed an HF diet throughout their life and during pregnancy and lactation; (3) pregnancy and lactation HF (PLHF): fed a control diet throughout life until mating, then HF diet during pregnancy and lactation. Male offspring were fed the control diet postweaning. Plasma and pancreatic tissue were collected, and mRNA concentrations of key factors regulating adipoinsular axis signaling were determined. Results. MHF and PLHF offspring exhibited increased adiposity and were hyperinsulinemic and hyperleptinemic compared to CONT. Despite a similar anthropometric phenotype, MHF and PLHF offspring exhibited distinctly different expression for key pancreatic genes, dependent upon maternal preconceptional nutritional background. Conclusions. These data suggest that despite using differential signaling pathways, obesity in offspring may be an adaptive outcome of early life exposure to HF during critical developmental windows.