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Sci Rep. 2015 Dec 3;5:17679. doi: 10.1038/srep17679.

Sex-specific increase in susceptibility to metabolic syndrome in adult offspring after prenatal ethanol exposure with post-weaning high-fat diet.

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Department of Pharmacology, Basic Medical School of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430071, China.
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430071, China.
Department of Epidemiology &Health Statistics, Public Health School of Wuhan University, Wuhan 430071, China.
Hubei Provincial Key Laboratory of Developmentally Originated Disease, Wuhan 430071, China.


Prenatal ethanol exposure (PEE) is an established risk factor for intrauterine growth retardation. The present study was designed to determine whether PEE can increase the susceptibility of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced metabolic syndrome (MS) in adult offspring in a sex-specific manner, based on a generalized linear model analysis. Pregnant Wistar rats were administered ethanol (4 g/kg.d) from gestational day 11 until term delivery. All offspring were fed either a normal diet or a HFD after weaning and were sacrificed at postnatal week 20, and blood samples were collected. Results showed that PEE reduced serum adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone levels but enhanced serum glucose, insulin, insulin resistant index (IRI), triglyceride and total cholesterol (TC) concentrations. Moreover, the analysis showed interactions among PEE, HFD and sex. In the PEE offspring, HFD aggravated the decrease in ACTH and corticosterone levels and further increased serum glucose, insulin, triglyceride and TC levels. The changes of serum ACTH, glucose and IRI levels in the female HFD rats were greater than those in the male HFD rats. Our findings suggest that PEE enhances the susceptibility to MS induced by HFD in a sex-specific manner, which might be primarily associated with the neuroendocrine metabolic programming by PEE.

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