Maternal high fat diet compromises survival and modulates lung development of offspring, and impairs lung function of dams (female mice)

Jordan Smoothy, Alexander N. Larcombe, Emily K. Chivers, Vance B. Matthews, Shelley Gorman

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14 Citations (Scopus)


BackgroundEpidemiological studies have identified strong relationships between maternal obesity and offspring respiratory dysfunction; however, the causal direction is not known. We tested whether maternal obesity alters respiratory function of offspring in early life.MethodsFemale C57Bl/6J mice were fed a high or low fat diet prior to and during two rounds of mating and resulting pregnancies with offspring lung function assessed at 2weeks of age. The lung function of dams was measured at 33weeks of age.ResultsA high fat diet caused significant weight gain prior to conception with dams exhibiting elevated fasting glucose, and glucose intolerance. The number of surviving litters was significantly less for dams fed a high fat diet, and surviving offspring weighed more, were longer and had larger lung volumes than those born to dams fed a low fat diet. The larger lung volumes significantly correlated in a linear fashion with body length. Pups born from the second pregnancy had reduced tissue elastance compared to pups born from the first pregnancy, regardless of the dam's diet. As there was reduced offspring survival born to dams fed a high fat diet, the statistical power of lung function measures of offspring was limited. There were signs of increased inflammation in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of dams (but not offspring) fed a high fat diet, with more tumour necrosis factor-, interleukin(IL)-5, IL-33 and leptin detected. Dams that were fed a high fat diet and became pregnant twice had reduced fasting glucose immediately prior to the second mating, and lower levels of IL-33 and leptin in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.ConclusionsWhile maternal high fat diet compromised litter survival, it also promoted somatic and lung growth (increased lung volume) in the offspring. Further studies are required to examine downstream effects of this enhanced lung volume on respiratory function in disease settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21
Number of pages18
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2019


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