Maternal obesity induced by a high fat diet causes altered cellular development in fetal brains suggestive of a predisposition of offspring to neurological disorders in later life
Fetal development in an obese maternal intrauterine environment has been shown to predispose the offspring for a number of metabolic disorders in later life. The observation that a large percentage of women of child-bearing age in the US are overweight/obese during pregnancy is therefore a source of concern. A high fat (HF) diet-induced obesity in female rats has been used as a model for maternal obesity. The objective of this study was to determine cellular development in brains of term fetuses of obese rats fed a HF diet from the time of weaning. Fetal brains were dissected out on gestational day 21 and processed for immunohistochemical analysis in the hypothalamic as well as extra-hypothalamic regions. The major observation of this study is that fetal development in the obese HF female rat induced several alterations in the HF fetal brain. Marked increases were observed in orexigenic signaling and a significant decrease was observed for anorexigenic signaling in the vicinity of the 3rd ventricle in HF brains. Additionally, our results indicated diminished migration and maturation of stem-like cells in the 3rd ventricular region as well as in the brain cortex. The results from the present study indicate developmental alterations in the hypothalamic and extra-hypothalamic regions in the HF fetal brain suggestive of a predisposition for the development of obesity and possibly neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the offspring.
KeywordsMaternal obesity High fat diet Fetal brain cellular development Hypothalamic appetite regulation
This work was supported by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Grant DK-061518 (MSP).
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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