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Maternal High-Fat Feeding Affects the Liver

Federica La Rosa, Letizia Guiducci and others



Maternal high-fat diet (HFD) affects metabolic and immune development. We aimed to characterize the effects of maternal HFD, and the subsequent diet-normalization of the mothers during a second pregnancy, on the liver and thymus metabolism in their offspring, in minipigs.

Offspring born to maternal high-fat diet (HFD) and normal diet (ND) fed mothers were studied at week 1 and months 1, 6, 12 of life.

Liver and thymus glucose uptake (GU) was measured with positron emission tomography during hyperinsulinemic-isoglycemia.

Histological analyses were performed to quantify liver steatosis, inflammation, and hepatic hematopoietic niches (HHN), and thymocyte size and density in a subset.

The protocol was repeated after maternal-diet-normalization in the HFD group.

At one week, HFDoff were characterized by hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, severe insulin resistance (IR), and high liver and thymus GU, associating with thymocyte size and density, with elevated weight-gain, liver IR, and steatosis in the first 6 months of life.

Maternal diet normalization reversed thymus and liver hypermetabolism, and increased HHN at one week. It also normalized systemic insulin-sensitivity and liver fat content at all ages. Instead, weight-gain excess, hyperglycemia, and hepatic IR were still observed at 1 month, i.e., end-lactation. We conclude that intra-uterine HFD exposure leads to time-changing metabolic and immune-correlated abnormalities. Maternal diet-normalization reversed most of the effects in the offspring.


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