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The effects of dietary fatty acids in the physiological outcomes of maternal high-fat diet on offspring energy homeostasis in mice

  • Kyle J. Mamounis (a1) (a2), Naomi R. Shvedov (a1), Nicholas Margolies (a1), Ali Yasrebi (a1) and Troy A. Roepke (a1) (a2) (a3)...


The early-life origins of disease hypothesis has been applied to obesity research and modeled through overnutrition, usually with a high-fat diet (HFD). Since the obesity epidemic coincided with societal change in dietary fat consumption, rather than amount, manipulation of fatty acid (FA) profile is an under-investigated area of study. Additionally, the binding of FAs to nuclear receptors may have persistent intergenerational, extranutritive endocrinological effects that interact with the actions of reproductive steroids causing sex-dependent effects. To determine the role of FA type in the effects underlying maternal HFD, we fed wild-type C57BL6/J mating pairs, from preconception through lactation, a HFD with high saturated fat levels from coconut oil or high linoleic acid (LA) levels from vegetable oil. Male and female offspring body weight and food intake were measured weekly for 25 weeks. Assays for glucose metabolism, body composition, and calorimetry were performed at 25 weeks. Plasma metabolic peptides and liver mRNA were measured terminally. Obesity was primarily affected by adult rather than maternal diet in males, yet in females, maternal HFD potentiated the effects of adult HFD. Maternal HFD high in LA impaired glucose disposal in males weaned onto HFD and insulin sensitivity of females. Plasma leptin correlated with adiposity, but insulin and insulin receptor expression in the liver were altered by maternal LA in males. Our results suggest that maternal FA profile is most influential on offspring glucose metabolism and that adult diet is more important than maternal diet for obesity and other parameters of metabolic syndrome.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Troy A. Roepke, Department of Animal Sciences, Rutgers University, SEBS, Bartlett Hall, 84 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. Email:


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Current address: Kyle J. Mamounis, Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32827, USA.



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