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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Dec;293(6):R2306-14. Epub 2007 Sep 26.

Programmed metabolic syndrome: prenatal undernutrition and postweaning overnutrition.

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  • 1Perinatal Research Laboratories, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles 90502, USA.


Maternal nutrient restriction results in intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) newborns that develop obesity despite normal postweaning diet. The epidemic of metabolic syndrome is attributed to programmed "thrifty phenotype" and exposure to Western diets. We hypothesized that programmed IUGR newborns would demonstrate greater susceptibility to obesity and metabolic abnormalities in response to high-fat diet. From day 10 to term gestation and lactation, control pregnant rats received ad libitum (AdLib) food, whereas study rats were 50% food restricted (FR). Cross-fostering techniques resulted in three offspring groups: control (AdLib/AdLib), FR during pregnancy (FR/AdLib), and FR during lactation (AdLib/FR). At 3 weeks, offspring were weaned to laboratory chow or high-fat calorie diet (9% vs. 17% calorie as fat). Body composition, appetite hormones, and glucose and lipid profiles were determined in 9-mo-old male and female offspring. High-fat diet had no effect on body weight of AdLib/AdLib, but significantly increased weights of FR/AdLib and AdLib/FR offspring. High-fat diet significantly increased body fat, reduced lean body mass, and accentuated plasma leptin but not ghrelin levels in both sexes in all groups. In males, high-fat diet caused a significant increase in glucose levels in all three groups with increased insulin levels in AdLib/AdLib and AdLib/FR, but not in FR/AdLib. In females, high-fat diet had no effect on glucose but significantly increased basal insulin among all three groups. High-fat diet caused hypertriglyceridemia in all three groups although only food-restricted females exhibited hypercholesterolemia. Sex and offspring phenotype-associated effects of high-fat diet indicate differing pathophysiologic mechanisms that require specific therapeutic approaches.

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