Female and male C57BL/6J offspring exposed to maternal obesogenic diet develop altered hypothalamic energy metabolism in adulthood

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Abstract

Maternal obesity is exceedingly common and strongly linked to offspring obesity and metabolic disease. Hypothalamic function is critical to obesity development. Hypothalamic mechanisms causing obesity following exposure to maternal obesity have not been elucidated. Therefore, we studied a cohort of C57BL/6J dams, treated with a control or high-fat-high-sugar diet, and their adult offspring to explore potential hypothalamic mechanisms to explain the link between maternal and offspring obesity. Dams treated with obesogenic diet were heavier with mild insulin resistance, which is reflective of the most common metabolic disease in pregnancy. Adult offspring exposed to maternal obesogenic diet had no change in body weight but significant increase in fat mass, decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, elevated plasma leptin, and elevated plasma thyroid-stimulating hormone. In addition, offspring exposed to maternal obesity had decreased energy intake and activity without change in basal metabolic rate. Hypothalamic neurochemical profile and transcriptome demonstrated decreased neuronal activity and inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation. Collectively, these results indicate that maternal obesity without diabetes is associated with adiposity and decreased hypothalamic energy production in offspring. We hypothesize that altered hypothalamic function significantly contributes to obesity development. Future studies focused on neuroprotective strategies aimed to improve hypothalamic function may decrease obesity development.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Offspring exposed to maternal diet-induced obesity demonstrate a phenotype consistent with energy excess. Contrary to previous studies, the observed energy phenotype was not associated with hyperphagia or decreased basal metabolic rate but rather decreased hypothalamic neuronal activity and energy production. This was supported by neurochemical changes in the hypothalamus as well as inhibition of hypothalamic oxidative phosphorylation pathway. These results highlight the potential for neuroprotective interventions in the prevention of obesity with fetal origins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E448-E466
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism
Volume323
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The plasma colorimetric assays were performed at the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center, University of Cincinnati (Grant DK59630). We thank Michael Ehrhardt, senior scientist in the Cytokine Reference Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, for assistance with multiplex ELISA. The in vivo metabolic studies (indirect calorimetry, meal pattern analysis, and body composition) were conducted at the Integrative Biology and Physiology Phenotyping Core, the University of Minnesota Medical School. We thank Dr. Phu Tran for technical assistance with IPA. Graphical abstract created with BioRender and published with permission. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grants HD055887 (to M.E.P.; K12 BIRCWH Scholar), P41 EB027061 (to I.T.), and P30 NS076408 (to I.T.), and the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics “R” Award (to M.E.P. and R.R.).

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grants HD055887 (to M.E.P.; K12 BIRCWH Scholar), P41 EB027061 (to I.T.), and P30 NS076408 (to I.T.), and the University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics “R” Award (to M.E.P. and R.R.).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 the American Physiological Society.

Keywords

  • energy metabolism
  • fetal development
  • hypothalamus
  • obesity
  • sex differences

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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