Maternal malnutrition influences the early development of foetal adaptive changes for survival. We explored the effects of maternal undernutrition during gestation and lactation on hepatic growth and function. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a normal or a food-restricted (FR) diet during gestation and/or lactation. We performed analyses of covariance (adjusting for the liver weight/body weight ratio) to compare hepatic growth and lipid metabolism among the offspring. Maternal FR during gestation triggered the development of wide spaces between hepatic cells and increased the expression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in three-week-old male offspring compared with controls (both p < 0.05). Offspring nursed by FR dams exhibited wider spaces between hepatic cells and a lower liver weight/body weight ratio than control offspring, and increased mTOR expression (p < 0.05). Interestingly, the significant decrease in expression of lipogenic-related genes was dependent on carbohydrate-responsive element-binding protein, despite the increased expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1) (p < 0.05). This study demonstrated increased expression of key metabolic regulators (mTOR and SREBP1), alterations in lipid metabolism, and deficits in hepatic growth in the offspring of FR-treated dams.
Lee, S., You, Y. A., Kwon, E. J., Jung, S. C., Jo, I., & Kim, Y. J. (2016). Maternal food restriction during pregnancy and lactation adversely affect hepatic growth and lipid metabolism in three-week-old rat offspring. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms17122115