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Biol Reprod. 2007 Oct;77(4):599-604. Epub 2007 May 23.

The contrasting effects of ad libitum and restricted feeding of a diet very high in saturated fats on sex ratio and metabolic hormones in mice.

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center, Columbia, Missouri 65211-7310, USA.


Skewing of the sex ratio towards males occurs among pups born to mice fed a very high saturated fat (VHF) diet. In the present study, we tested whether the fat content of the VHF diet rather than the number of calories consumed is responsible for this effect. Eight-week-old NIH Swiss mice were placed on the VHF diet either ad libitum (VHF) or in a restricted manner (VHF-R). The VHF-R mice gained weight at a similar rate to controls fed a standard chow diet. Mice were bred at 15 wk and subsequently at 26 wk and 35 wk of age. Overall, the VHF, VHF-R, and control groups delivered 244, 242, and 274 pups, respectively, with male proportions of 0.60, 0.43, and 0.48, respectively. The pup sex ratios of the VHF group (favoring males) and VHF-R group (favoring females) each differed from 0.5 (P < 0.01). The sex ratios also differed (P < 0.0001) between the VHF and control groups, and between the VHF and VHF-R groups. Within the diet groups, maternal body weight had no effect on sex ratio. Serum leptin concentrations among the dams were similar in the VHF and VHF-R groups but higher than in the control group, while the IGF1 and corticosterone levels were comparable in all three groups. Therefore, the atypical sex ratios of offspring born to dams on the VHF diet seem to be influenced by the amount of fat consumed. Since males fed the VHF diet had neither more Y-sperm nor sired more sons than daughters, the dietary effects are manifested exclusively through the female.

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