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Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 Feb;37(2):254-62. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.42. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Maternal high-fat diet impacts endothelial function in nonhuman primate offspring.

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Division of Neuroscience, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, OR 97006, USA.



The link between maternal under-nutrition and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the offspring later in life is well recognized, but the impact of maternal over-nutrition on the offspring's cardiovascular function and subsequent risk for CVD later in life remains unclear. Here, we investigated the impact of maternal exposure to a high-fat/calorie diet (HFD) during pregnancy and early postnatal period on endothelial function of the offspring in a nonhuman primate model.


Offspring, naturally born to either a control (CTR) diet (14% fat calories) or a HFD (36% fat calories) consumption dam, were breast-fed until weaning at about 8 months of age. After weaning, the offspring were either maintained on the same diet (CTR/CTR, HFD/HFD), or underwent a diet switch (CTR/HFD, HFD/CTR). Blood samples and arterial tissues were collected at necropsy when the animals were about 13 months of age.


HFD/HFD juveniles displayed an increased plasma insulin level and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in comparison with CTR/CTR. In abdominal aorta, but not the renal artery, acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation was decreased remarkably for HFD/HFD juveniles compared with CTR/CTR. HFD/HFD animals also showed a thicker intima wall and an abnormal vascular-morphology, concurrent with elevated expression levels of several markers related to vascular inflammation and fibrinolytic function. Diet-switching animals (HFD/CTR and CTR/HFD) displayed modest damage on the abdominal vessel.


Our data indicate that maternal HFD exposure impairs offspring's endothelial function. Both early programming events and postweaning diet contribute to the abnormalities that could be reversed partially by diet intervention.

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