Folic acid supplementation of female mice, with or without vitamin B-12, before and during pregnancy and lactation programs adiposity and vascular health in adult male offspring

Rika E. Aleliunas, Abeer M. Aljaadi, Ismail Laher, Melissa B. Glier, Tim J. Green, Melissa Murphy, Joshua W. Miller, Angela M. Devlin

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The developmental origins of health and disease theory suggest that disturbances in the fetal and early postnatal environment contribute to chronic adulthood diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Greater adiposity and insulin resistance have been reported in children of women with high erythrocyte folate but poor vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy. The mechanisms underlying this relation are not known. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of maternal supplemental folic acid, with or without vitamin B-12, on adiposity, glucose homeostasis, and vascular health in adult male offspring mice. Methods: Female C57BL/6J mice were fed a control diet (M-CON, 2 mg folic acid/kg, 50 mg vitamin B-12/kg) or a folic acid-supplemented diet with [10 mg folic acid/kg, 50 μg vitamin B-12/kg (SFA+B12)] or without [10 mg folic acid/kg, no vitamin B-12 (SFA-B12)] vitamin B-12 for 6 wk before mating and during pregnancy and lactation. The offspring were weaned onto a control diet (16% energy from fat) or a western diet (45% energy from fat) until 23 wk of age. The effects of maternal diet on adiposity, vascular function, and glucose tolerance were assessed in 6 groups of adult male offspring: Control diet-fed M-CON, SFA+B12, and SFA-B12 and western diet-fed M-CON, SFA+B12, and SFA-B12. Results: Control and western diet-fed SFA-B12 and SFA+B12 offspring had smaller visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue than M-CON offspring (P < 0.05). Control SFA-B12 and SFA+B12 offspring had lower serum total adiponectin and vitamin B-12 concentrations and lower NADPH oxidase 2 expression in aorta compared with M-CON offspring (P < 0.05). These effects were not observed in western diet-fed offspring. Conclusions: Folic acid supplementation of female mice before and during pregnancy and lactation, with or without dietary vitamin B-12, affects adult male offspring adiposity, vascular function, and one-carbon metabolism in those fed a control diet but not a western diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-696
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Apr 2016


  • Adiposity
  • Developmental programming
  • Folate
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Vitamin B-12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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