Diet-induced obesity reduces core body temperature across the estrous cycle and pregnancy in the rat

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Obesity during pregnancy causes adverse maternal and fetal health outcomes and programs offspring for adult-onset diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Obesity also disrupts core body temperature (Tc) regulation in nonpregnant rodents; however, it is unknown whether obesity alters normal maternal Tc adaptations to pregnancy. Since Tc is influenced by the circadian system, and both obesity and pregnancy alter circadian biology, it was hypothesized that obesity disrupts the normal rhythmic patterns of Tc before and during gestation. Obesity was induced by cafeteria (CAF) feeding in female Wistar rats for 8 weeks prior to and during gestation, whereas control (CON) animals had free access to chow. Intraperitoneal temperature loggers measured daily Tc profiles throughout the study, while maternal body composition and leptin levels were assessed near term. Daily temperature profiles were examined for rhythmic features (mesor, amplitude and acrophase) by cosine regression analysis. CAF animals exhibited increased fat mass (93%) and associated hyperleptinemia (3.2-fold increase) compared to CON animals. CAF consumption reduced the average Tc (by up to 0.29°C) across the estrous cycle and most of pregnancy; however, Tc for CAF and CON animals converged toward the end of gestation. Obesity reduced the amplitude of Tc rhythms at estrus and proestrus and on day 8 of pregnancy, but increased the amplitude at day 20 of pregnancy. Photoperiod analysis revealed that obesity reduced Tc exclusively in the light period during pre-pregnancy but only during the dark period in late gestation. In conclusion, obesity alters rhythmic Tc profiles and reduces the magnitude of the Tc decline late in rat gestation, which may have implications for maternal health and fetal development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1087
Number of pages11
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2018


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