A high-fat diet during rat pregnancy or suckling induces cardiovascular dysfunction in adult offspring.
Khan IY., Dekou V., Douglas G., Jensen R., Hanson MA., Poston L., Taylor PD.
Epidemiological and animal studies suggest that diet-induced epigenetic modifications in early life can contribute to development of the metabolic syndrome in adulthood. We previously reported features of the metabolic syndrome in adult offspring of rats fed a diet rich in animal fat during pregnancy and suckling. We now report a study to compare the relative effects of high-fat feeding during 1) pregnancy and 2) the suckling period in the development of these disorders. As observed previously, 6-mo-old female offspring of fat-fed dams suckled by the same fat-fed dams (OHF) demonstrated raised blood pressure, despite being fed a balanced diet from weaning. Female offspring of fat-fed dams "cross fostered" to dams consuming a control diet during suckling (OHF/C) demonstrated raised blood pressure compared with controls (OC) [systolic blood pressure (SBP; mmHg) means +/- SE: OHF/C, 132.5 +/- 3.0, n = 6 vs. OC, 119.0 +/- 3.8, n = 7, P < 0.05]. Female offspring of controls cross fostered to dams consuming the fat diet (OC/HF) were also hypertensive [SBP (mmHg) 131.0 +/- 2.5 mmHg, n = 6 vs. OC, P < 0.05]. Endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR) of male and female OHF and OHF/C mesenteric small arteries was similar and blunted compared with OC (P < 0.001). OC/HF arteries showed profoundly impaired EDR (OC/HF vs. OHF, P < 0.001). OHF/C and OC/HF demonstrated hyperinsulinemia and increased adiposity. Features of the metabolic syndrome in adult offspring of fat-fed rats can be acquired both antenatally and during suckling. However, exposure during pregnancy confers adaptive protection against endothelial dysfunction induced by maternal fat feeding during suckling.