Maternal undernutrition alters fat cell size distribution, but not lipogenic gene expression, in the visceral fat of the late gestation guinea pig fetus

L. T. Nguyen, B. S. Muhlhausler, K. J. Botting, J. L. Morrison

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19 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the development of adipose tissue in the guinea pig and the impact of maternal undernutrition on the structural and functional characteristics of perirenal adipose tissue in the dam and fetus. Date-mated guinea pigs were provided with either ad libitum feed (Control, C) or 85% of food intake per body weight of the Controls (Undernutrition, UN). Maternal (C, n = 6; UN, n = 7) perirenal adipose tissue (PAT) was collected at 60 d gestation and fetal PAT was collected at 50 d (C, n = 4) and 60 d (C, n = 8 and UN, n = 7) gestation (term, 69 d). The expression of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD-1), fatty acid synthase (FAS), lipoprotein lipase (LPL), leptin and glycerol 3 phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PDH) mRNA and glucose transporters 1 and 4 (GLUT1 and GLUT4) was determined by Real Time PCR. There was no effect of maternal UN on total or relative PAT mass in the pregnant dam. There was an increase in G3PDH, but not LPL, leptin, FAS or GLUT4 mRNA expression, in UN dams compared to Controls (P < 0.05). In the fetal guinea pig there was no effect of maternal UN on total or relative PAT mass, however, the UN fetuses had a higher percentage of larger lipid locules in their PAT compared to Controls (P < 0.05). The expression of FAS, LPL, SCD-1, leptin, G3PDH and GLUT4 mRNA in PAT was not different between the Control and UN fetuses. These results support previous studies which have demonstrated that maternal undernutrition is associated with an increased accumulation of visceral adipose tissue in utero, and extend them by showing that maternal undernutrition results in early changes in the size distribution of lipid locules in visceral fat depots that precede changes in lipogenic gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-909
Number of pages8
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Oct 2010


  • Adipose tissue
  • Fetus
  • Gene expression
  • Guinea pig
  • Maternal undernutrition
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Developmental Biology

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