Morris, Tiffany J., Vickers, Mark, Gluckman, Peter, Gilmour, Stewart and Affara, Nabeel
Transcriptional profiling of rats subjected to gestational undernourishment: implications for the developmental variations in metabolic traits
PLoS ONE, 4, (9(e7271)), . (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007271).
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A link has been established between prenatal nutrition and the development of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases later in life, a process referred to as developmental programming. It has been suggested that the trajectory of development is shifted by alterations in the maternal nutritional state leading to changes in developmental plasticity, in part underpinned by epigenetic changes in gene regulation. However, to date, only candidate gene approaches have been used to assess expression and molecular changes in the offspring of maternally undernourished animals. Furthermore, most work has focused on animals at an age where the programmed phenotype is already manifest and little is known about changes in gene expression in the offspring prior to development of obesity and related metabolic disorders. Gene expression profiles of liver, retroperitoneal white adipose fat, and biceps femoris skeletal muscle tissue from young adult male rats (55 days old) in which nutritional status had been manipulated in utero by maternal undernutrition (UN) were compared to the profiles of offspring of ad libitum fed mothers serving as the control group (AD) (8 offspring/group). The expression profiles were determined using the Illumina RatRef-12 BeadChip. No significant changes in expression were identified for skeletal muscle or white adipose tissue. However, studies of liver tissue showed 249 differentially expressed genes (143 up regulated, 106 down regulated). Although the animals at day 55 have yet to develop obesity they already show biochemical abnormalities and by day 110 express a phenotype characterized by increased adiposity and altered insulin sensitivity. An analysis of pathways affected suggests that intrauterine programming of UN animals to favor fat as an energy source results in mitochondrial dysfunction which initially affects the postnatal hepatic function and subsequently, via the resultant metabolic changes in other organs leads to the evolution of a phenotype similar to that of the metabolic syndrome.
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