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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 6;8(6):e65452. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065452. Print 2013.

Pre- and early-postnatal nutrition modify gene and protein expressions of muscle energy metabolism markers and phospholipid Fatty Acid composition in a muscle type specific manner in sheep.

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Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


We previously reported that undernutrition in late fetal life reduced whole-body insulin sensitivity in adult sheep, irrespective of dietary exposure in early postnatal life. Skeletal muscle may play an important role in control of insulin action. We therefore studied a range of putative key muscle determinants of insulin signalling in two types of skeletal muscles (longissimus dorsi (LD) and biceps femoris (BF)) and in the cardiac muscle (ventriculus sinister cordis (VSC)) of sheep from the same experiment. Twin-bearing ewes were fed either 100% (NORM) or 50% (LOW) of their energy and protein requirements during the last trimester of gestation. From day-3 postpartum to 6-months of age (around puberty), twin offspring received a high-carbohydrate-high-fat (HCHF) or a moderate-conventional (CONV) diet, whereafter all males were slaughtered. Females were subsequently raised on a moderate diet and slaughtered at 2-years of age (young adults). The only long-term consequences of fetal undernutrition observed in adult offspring were lower expressions of the insulin responsive glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) protein and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1α (PGC1α) mRNA in BF, but increased PGC1α expression in VSC. Interestingly, the HCHF diet in early postnatal life was associated with somewhat paradoxically increased expressions in LD of a range of genes (but not proteins) related to glucose uptake, insulin signalling and fatty acid oxidation. Except for fatty acid oxidation genes, these changes persisted into adulthood. No persistent expression changes were observed in BF and VSC. The HCHF diet increased phospholipid ratios of n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in all muscles, even in adults fed identical diets for 1½ years. In conclusion, early postnatal, but not late gestation, nutrition had long-term consequences for a number of determinants of insulin action and metabolism in LD. Tissues other than muscle may account for reduced whole body insulin sensitivity in adult LOW sheep.

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