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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e66816. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066816. Print 2013.

Dietary alleviation of maternal obesity and diabetes: increased resistance to diet-induced obesity transcriptional and epigenetic signatures.

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  • 1INRA, UMR1198 Biologie du Développement et Reproduction, Jouy-en-Josas, France.


According to the developmental origins of health and diseases (DOHaD), and in line with the findings of many studies, obesity during pregnancy is clearly a threat to the health and well-being of the offspring, later in adulthood. We previously showed that 20% of male and female inbred mice can cope with the obesogenic effects of a high-fat diet (HFD) for 20 weeks after weaning, remaining lean. However the feeding of a control diet (CD) to DIO mice during the periconceptional/gestation/lactation period led to a pronounced sex-specific shift (17% to 43%) from susceptibility to resistance to HFD, in the female offspring only. Our aim in this study was to determine how, in the context of maternal obesity and T2D, a CD could increase resistance on female fetuses. Transcriptional analyses were carried out with a custom-built mouse liver microarray and by quantitative RT-PCR for muscle and adipose tissue. Both global DNA methylation and levels of pertinent histone marks were assessed by LUMA and western blotting, and the expression of 15 relevant genes encoding chromatin-modifying enzymes was analyzed in tissues presenting global epigenetic changes. Resistance was associated with an enhancement of hepatic pathways protecting against steatosis, the unexpected upregulation of neurotransmission-related genes and the modulation of a vast imprinted gene network. Adipose tissue displayed a pronounced dysregulation of gene expression, with an upregulation of genes involved in lipid storage and adipocyte hypertrophy or hyperplasia in obese mice born to lean and obese mothers, respectively. Global DNA methylation, several histone marks and key epigenetic regulators were also altered. Whether they were themselves lean (resistant) or obese (sensitive), the offspring of lean and obese mice clearly differed in terms of several metabolic features and epigenetic marks suggesting that the effects of a HFD depend on the leanness or obesity of the mother.

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