Maternal High-Fat Diet During Gestation or Suckling Differentially Affects Offspring Leptin Sensitivity and Obesity

  1. Kellie L.K. Tamashiro2
  1. 1Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Xi’an, Shaanxi, People’s Republic of China
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  1. Corresponding authors: Kellie L.K. Tamashiro, ktamashiro{at}, and Jianqun Yan, jqyan{at}


Maternal high-fat (HF) diet throughout gestation and suckling has long-term consequences on the offspring’s metabolic phenotype. Here we determine the relative contribution of pre- or postnatal maternal HF diet on offspring’s metabolic phenotype. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were maintained on normal chow or HF diet throughout gestation and suckling. All litters were cross-fostered to chow or HF dams on postnatal day (PND)1, resulting in four groups. Body weight, body composition, and glucose tolerance were measured at weaning and in adulthood. Leptin sensitivity was assessed by signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 activation on PND10 and PND21. Pups cross-fostered to HF dams gained more body weight than chow pups by PND7 and persisted until weaning. Postnatal HF pups had greater adiposity, higher plasma leptin concentration, impaired glucose tolerance, and reduced phosphorylated STAT3 in response to leptin in the arcuate nucleus at weaning. After weaning, male offspring cross-fostered to HF dams were hyperphagic and maintained greater body weight than postnatal chow pups. Postnatal HF diet during suckling continued to impair glucose tolerance in male and female offspring in adulthood. Maternal HF diet during suckling has a greater influence in determining offspring’s metabolic phenotype than prenatal HF diet exposure and could provide insight regarding optimal perinatal nutrition for mothers and children.


  • Received July 10, 2011.
  • Accepted May 30, 2012.

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