, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 139-150

Combined effect of high-fat diet and copper deficiency during gestation on fetal copper status in the rat

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We have previously shown that a low-copper (Cu) diet produced alterations in placental Cu transport and fetal Cu stores. Because Cu deficiency has been associated with lipid deposition in rat dam liver, we hypothesized that a high fat intake, a prevalent dietary habit in many populations, may worsen fetal Cu status and its closely linked iron (Fe) deposits. Pregnant rats were fed one of four diets during the second half of gestation: NFNCu: normal fat (7%), normal Cu (6 mg/kg); HFNCu: high fat (21%), normal Cu; NFLCu: normal fat, low Cu (0.6 mg/kg), and HFLCu: high fat, low Cu. One day before delivery, dams were anesthetized, and maternal as well as fetal plasma and tissues were obtained. Maternal, fetal, and placental weights were indistinguishable regardless of the group. Dam plasma Cu and placental Cu were lower in both LCu groups than in the NFNCu or the HFNCu groups. However, fetal plasma Cu was similar in all treatment groups. Dam and fetal liver Cu stores were reduced in the LCu groups compared to the NCu groups. This resulted in lower fetal/maternal liver Cu ratios in the NFLCu (1.79 ± 0.14,p < 0.05) and HFLCu (1.59 ± 0.21,p < 0.05) as compared to the NFNCu (4.12 ± 0.44) and the HFNCu (4.15 ± 0.27). Dam liver Fe was higher in the NFNCu than in HFNCu group (1.10 ± 0.8 vs. 0.89 ± 0.06 μmol/g,p < 0.05); fetal liver Fe from HFNCu and NFLCu dams was lower than that from NFNCu fetuses (NFNCu: 2.42 ± 0.14; HFNCu: 1.92 ± 0.15,p < 0.05; NFLCu: 1.81 ± 0.10,p < 0.01). Fetuses of the HFLCu group had a lower heart Fe than the NFNCu group (0.56 ± 0.03 vs. 44.0 ± 3.0 μg/g,p < 0.01). These data indicate that a maternal high-fat diet can potentially aggravate the effects of Cu deficiency by further altering fetal Cu and Fe tissue stores.