Heifer nutrient intake during early- and mid-gestation programs adult offspring adiposity and mRNA expression of growth-related genes in adipose depots

Reproduction. 2011 May;141(5):697-706. doi: 10.1530/REP-10-0332. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Changes in maternal nutrient intake during gestation alter IGF receptor abundance and leptin (LEP) mRNA expression in fetal adipose tissue. It is not known whether such changes persist into adult life and whether they are associated with an effect on phenotype. We investigated the effect of high (240%) and low (70%) levels of recommended daily crude protein intake for beef heifers during the first and second trimesters of gestation on singleton progeny (n=68): subcutaneous (SC) adipose tissue depth at rump (P8) and rib (RF) sites from 65 until 657 days of age; plasma leptin concentrations from birth until 657 days and expression of IGF1 and IGF2, their receptors (IGF1R and IGF2R) and LEP mRNA in perirenal (PR), omental (OM) and SC adipose tissue at 680 days of age. High-protein diets during the first trimester increased LEP and IGF1 mRNA in PR of males and females, respectively, compared with low-protein diets, and decreased IGF1R mRNA in SC of all progeny but increased RF depth of males between 552 and 657 days. High-protein diets compared with low-protein diets during the second trimester increased IGF1R mRNA in PR and OM of all progeny; LEP mRNA in PR of males; and IGF2 and IGF2R mRNA in OM of all progeny. Conversely, LEP mRNA in OM and IGF2 mRNA in PR of all progeny were decreased following exposure to high- compared with low-protein diets during the second trimester. Heifer diet during gestation has permanent sex- and depot-specific effects on the expression of adipogenic and adipocytokine genes and offspring adiposity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / genetics*
  • Age Factors
  • Aging
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gestational Age
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism
  • Leptin / blood
  • Leptin / genetics
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism
  • Receptor, IGF Type 2 / genetics
  • Receptor, IGF Type 2 / metabolism
  • Sex Factors
  • Subcutaneous Fat / metabolism*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Leptin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, IGF Type 2
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1