Sex-Dependent Cognitive Performance in Baboon Offspring Following Maternal Caloric Restriction in Pregnancy and Lactation


In humans a suboptimal diet during development has negative outcomes in offspring. We investigated the behavioral outcomes in baboons born to mothers undergoing moderate maternal nutrient restriction (MNR). Maternal nutrient restriction mothers (n = 7) were fed 70% of food eaten by controls (CTR, n = 12) fed ad libitum throughout gestation and lactation. At 3.3 ± 0.2 (mean ± standard error of the mean [SEM]) years of age offspring (controls: female [FC, n = 8], male [MC, n = 4]; nutrient restricted: female [FR, n = 3] and male [MR, n = 4]) were administered progressive ratio, simple discrimination, intra-/extra-dimension set shift and delayed matching to sample tasks to assess motivation, learning, attention, and working memory, respectively. A treatment effect was observed in MNR offspring who demonstrated less motivation and impaired working memory. Nutrient-restricted female offspring showed improved learning, while MR offspring showed impaired learning and attentional set shifting and increased impulsivity. In summary, 30% restriction in maternal caloric intake has long lasting neurobehavioral outcomes in adolescent male baboon offspring.

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Correspondence to Jesse S. Rodriguez PhD.

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Rodriguez, J.S., Bartlett, T.Q., Keenan, K.E. et al. Sex-Dependent Cognitive Performance in Baboon Offspring Following Maternal Caloric Restriction in Pregnancy and Lactation. Reprod. Sci. 19, 493–504 (2012) doi:10.1177/1933719111424439

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  • developmental programming
  • motivation
  • learning
  • memory
  • attention