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Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6 Suppl):1838S-1845S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.000794. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

The guinea pig as a model for metabolic programming of adiposity.

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Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland.



The human infant accumulates body fat during intrauterine life. The guinea pig shares this characteristic and is born with similar adiposity; thus, it may be a relevant model to study obesity programming.


The objective of this study was to evaluate guinea pig adipose tissue (AT) development and the effect of a maternal high-fat diet on the offspring's body composition.


In experiment 1, adipogenesis dynamics were evaluated at 3, 10, 21, and 136 d in epididymal and retroperitoneal AT with the use of (2)H(2)O labeling. In experiment 2, dams received a control or high-fat diet from mating to 21 d after delivery. The offspring received a high-fat diet from 22 to 105 d; adiposity was measured at 2, 21, 54, and 97 d.


The fractional proliferation rate (FPR) of cells in epididymal AT was 25.2% of cells synthesized in 5 d at 3 d of age and decreased over time (P < 0.001). Age had no effect on retroperitoneal FPR (P = 0.179). In both depots, the fractional synthesis rate (FSR) of palmitate decreased extensively from day 3 to day 10, increasing by day 21 and declining by day 136 (P < 0.001). The FSR of triglycerides decreased with age (P < 0.001). A maternal high-fat diet increased the offspring's adiposity at 2 d and 21 d (P < 0.05) but had no effect on body composition later in life.


Adipogenesis in the guinea pig is very active during early life and was altered by a maternal high-fat diet; thus, it is an adequate model for intrauterine fat deposition. However, there were no effects of maternal diet later in life.

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