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Endocrinology. 2011 Apr;152(4):1378-87. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-1093. Epub 2011 Feb 8.

Maternal fructose intake during pregnancy and lactation alters placental growth and leads to sex-specific changes in fetal and neonatal endocrine function.

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Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.


The effects of maternal fructose intake on offspring health remain largely unknown, despite the marked increase in consumption of sweetened beverages that has paralleled the obesity epidemic. The present study investigated the impact of maternal fructose intake on placental, fetal, and neonatal development. Female Wistar rats were time-mated and allocated to receive either water [control (CONT)] or fructose solution designed to provide 20% of caloric intake from fructose (FR). FR was administered from d 1 of pregnancy until postnatal day (P) 10. All dams had ad libitum access to standard laboratory chow and water. Dams and offspring were killed at embryonic day (E) 21 and P10. FR dams demonstrated increased total caloric intake and maternal hyperinsulinemia at E21 as well as increased maternal plasma fructose levels at E21 and P10. FR intake did not alter maternal blood glucose, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), or electrolyte levels at either time point. Fetal weights at E21 were unchanged, although placental weights were reduced in FR female but not FR male fetuses. Plasma leptin, fructose, and blood glucose levels were increased and BHB levels decreased in FR female but not male fetuses. Plasma insulin levels were not different between CONT and FR groups. Male and female FR neonates had higher plasma fructose levels and were hypoinsulinemic but euglycemic at P10 compared with CONT. Blood BHB levels were increased in FR male neonates but not females at P10. P10 plasma leptin levels were not different between groups. Stomach content leptin levels were increased in all FR offspring at P10, but no differences in stomach content insulin or fructose levels were observed. This study reports for the first time that maternal FR intake resulted in sex-specific changes in offspring development, whereby females appear more vulnerable to metabolic compromise during neonatal life. Independent follow-up studies are essential to investigate the long-term consequences of maternal FR consumption on offspring health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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