Our paper entitled Maternal high-fat feeding in pregnancy programmes atherosclerotic lesion size in the ApoE*3 Leiden mouse has been accepted for publication by the Journal of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Study authors are Liz Tarling, Ruth Austin, Kevin Ryan, Susanne Kugler, Simon Langley-Evans and Andy Salter.
The paper describes the impact of feeding a high fat diet during pregnancy upon development of atherosclerosis in the adult ApoE*3 Leiden offspring of wild type mice. ApoE*3 Leiden mice are mice carrying a human mutation of the ApoE gene. This gene predisposes to atherosclerosis in mice that are fed a high cholesterol diet. In our study transgenic males were mated with wild type females and the pregnant mice were either fed a low fat or a high fat ‘Western’ type diet. Atherosclerosis prone ApoE*3 Leiden female offspring were then fed either low fat, low cholesterol diet or a high cholesterol atherogenic diet.
All mice fed the atherogenic diet developed atherosclerotic plaques, but those whose mothers were fed the high fat diet developed significantly larger plaques. This study confirms our earlier work that showed that maternal diet during pregnancy can programme atherosclerosis in the offspring, but importantly showed that a typical high fat Western diet is as effective in this programming as is undernutrition (our previous work showed programming by feeding a low protein diet). The data are consistent with the hypothesis that maternal fat intake may result in the development of atherosclerotic plaques during fetal development, but other mechanisms may be at work, including programming of inflammatory processes.