Sex differences in early programming by maternal high fat diet induced-obesity and fish oil supplementation in mice

Latha Ramalingam, Kalhara R. Menikdiwela, Stephani Spainhour, Tochi Eboh, Naima Moustaid-Moussa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Pre-pregnancy obesity is a contributing factor for impairments in offspring metabolic health. Interventional strategies during pregnancy are a potential approach to alleviate and/or pre-vent obesity and obesity related metabolic alterations in the offspring. Fish oil (FO), rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) exerts metabolic health benefits. However, the role of FO in early life remains still unknown. Hence, this study objective was to determine the effect of FO supplementation in mice from pre-pregnancy through lactation, and to study the post-natal metabolic health effects in gonadal fat and liver of offspring fed high fat (HF) diet with or without FO. Female C57BL6J mice aged 4–5 weeks were fed a HF (45% fat) diet supplemented with or without FO (30 g/kg of diet) and low fat (LF; 10% fat) pre-pregnancy through lactation. After weaning, offspring (male and female) from HF or FO dams either continued the same diet (HF-HF and FO-FO) or switched to the other diet (HF-FO and FO-HF) for 13 weeks, creating four groups of treatment, and LF-LF was used as a control group. Serum, gonadal fat and liver tissue were collected at termi-nation for metabolic analyses. Offspring of both sexes fed HF with or without fish oil gained (p < 0.05) more weight post weaning, compared to LF-LF-fed mice. All the female offspring groups supplemented with FO had reduced body weight compared to the respective male groups. Further, FO-FO supplementation in both sexes (p < 0.05) improved glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity compared to HF-HF. All FO-FO fed mice had significantly reduced adipocyte size compared to HF-HF group in both male and females. Inflammation, measured by mRNA levels of monocyte chemoat-tractant protein 1 (Mcp1), was reduced (p < 0.05) with FO supplementation in both sexes in gonadal fat and in the liver. Markers of fatty acid synthesis, fatty acid synthase (Fasn) showed no sex specific differences in gonadal fat and liver of mice supplemented with HF. Female mice had lower liver triglycerides than male counterparts. Supplementation of FO in mice improved metabolic health of offspring by lowering markers of lipid synthesis and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3703
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Fish oil
  • High fat diet
  • Maternal obesity
  • Mice
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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