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J Physiol. 2001 Jun 15;533(Pt 3):815-22.

Abnormal aortic fatty acid composition and small artery function in offspring of rats fed a high fat diet in pregnancy.

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  • 1Maternal and Fetal Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, St Thomas' Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK.


1. Disturbances of the in utero environment are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. In this study we have determined whether abnormal vascular function in the adult offspring of rats fed a high saturated fat diet in pregnancy is associated with altered plasma lipids or vascular fatty acid content. 2. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a breeding diet (4 % fat) or a diet high in saturated fat (20 % fat) for 10 days prior to and throughout pregnancy, and during weaning. Female offspring were then fed a maintenance diet (3 % fat) until 160 days of age. 3. Endothelium-dependent relaxation induced by acetylcholine was blunted in isolated branches of the femoral artery from 160-day-old female offspring of dams fed the saturated fat diet when compared with female offspring of dams fed the breeding diet. These offspring exhibited elevated plasma triglyceride and reduced plasma high density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. 4. The fatty acid composition of the aortas was abnormal, with a marked reduction in the content of arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids. 5. This study demonstrates that a high fat diet in pregnant rats produces abnormal vascular function, plasma lipid disturbances and altered vascular fatty acid content in their female offspring during adulthood.

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