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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010;654:77-89. doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-3271-3_5.

High fat programming of beta-cell failure.

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  • 1Diabetes Discovery Platform, Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, 7505, Cape Town, South Africa.


High saturated fat intake contributes to insulin resistance, beta-cell failure, and type 2 diabetes. Developmental programming refers to a stimulus or insult during critical periods of life which includes fetal and subsequent early neonatal life. Programming alters offspring physiology and metabolism with both immediate and lasting consequences. Maternal nutrition in gestation and lactation shapes offspring development and health. A high saturated fat diet ingested by mothers during gestation and/or lactation is a form of nutritional insult that induces diabetogenic changes in offspring physiology and metabolism. High fat programming is induced by maternal high saturated fat intake during defined periods of gestation and/or lactation and programs the physiology and metabolism of the offspring in early life. This more recently adopted form of developmental programming reflects society in both affluent and developing countries. High fat programming induces adverse changes in beta-cell development and function in neonatal and weanling offspring. These changes are characterized by compromised beta-cell development and function, evident by altered expression of key factors that maintain the beta-cell phenotype. High fat programming is likely to result in beta-cell failure and eventual type 2 diabetes.

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