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Genes Dev. 2012 Jun 15;26(12):1306-11. doi: 10.1101/gad.191031.112.

Maternal western diet causes inflammatory milk and TLR2/4-dependent neonatal toxicity.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


For all newborn mammals, mother's milk is the perfect nourishment, crucial for their postnatal development. Here we report that, unexpectedly, maternal western diet consumption in mice causes the production of toxic milk that contains excessive long chain and saturated fatty acids, which triggers ceramide accumulation and inflammation in the nursing neonates, manifested as alopecia. This neonatal toxicity requires Toll-like-receptors (TLR), but not gut microbiota, because TLR2/4 deletion or TLR4 inhibition confers resistance, whereas germ-free mice remain sensitive. These findings unravel maternal western diet-induced inflammatory milk secretion as a novel aspect of the metabolic syndrome at the maternal offspring interface.

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