We previously reported that a maternal high fat (HF) diet resulted in adult offspring with increased adiposity and hyperleptinemia. As leptin has an inhibitory effect on adrenal steroidogenesis and a stimulatory effect on epinephrine synthesis, we hypothesized that key adrenal steroidogenic and catecholaminergic enzymes would be altered in these offspring. Wistar rats were randomized into three groups at weaning: (1) control dams fed a standard control chow diet from weaning and throughout pregnancy and lactation (CON), (2) dams fed a HF diet from weaning and throughout pregnancy and lactation (MHF) and (3) dams fed standard control chow diet throughout life until conception, then fed a HF diet in pregnancy and lactation (PLHF). Dams were mated at day 100 (P100). After birth at P22 (weaning), male offspring were fed a standard control chow (con) or high fat (hf) diet. At P160, plasma samples and adrenal tissues were collected. Postweaning hf diet significantly elevated plasma corticosterone concentrations in PLHF-hf offspring compared to PLHF-con. MHF nutrition increased adrenal adrenocorticotrophic hormone receptor (ACTH-R) mRNA levels compared to CON-con. 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βHSD) mRNA levels were decreased in MHF compared to PLHF offspring. Phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) mRNA levels were increased in MHF-hf offspring compared to MHF-con. Plasma homocysteine (HCY) concentrations were significantly elevated in CON-hf and MHF-hf offspring compared to chow-fed offspring, associated with elevated intakes of methionine and reduced intakes of pyridoxine. Immunoreactive leptin receptor (ObRb) and PNMT were colocalized in medullary chromaffin cells. This study suggests that a postweaning HF diet in offspring induced changes in adrenal gene expression levels that are dependent upon the level of maternal nutrition.

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Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Department of Health Sciences

Connor, K, Vickers, M.H. (M. H.), Cupido, C. (C.), Sirimanne, E. (E.), & Sloboda, D.M. (D. M.). (2010). Maternal high fat diet during critical windows of development alters adrenal cortical and medullary enzyme expression in adult male rat offspring. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 1(4), 245–254. doi:10.1017/S2040174410000346