Effects of a high-fat diet exposure in utero on the metabolic syndrome-like phenomenon in mouse offspring through epigenetic changes in adipocytokine gene expression

Endocrinology. 2012 Jun;153(6):2823-30. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-2161. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


The links between obesity in parents and their offspring and the role of genes and a shared environment are not completely understood. Adipocytokines such as leptin and adiponectin play important roles in glucose and lipid metabolism. Therefore, we examined whether the offspring from dams exposed to a high-fat diet during pregnancy (OH mice) exhibited hypertension, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia along with epigenetic changes in the expression of adipocytokine genes. OH mice were significantly heavier than the offspring of dams exposed to a control diet during pregnancy (OC mice) from 14 wk of age after an increased caloric intake from 8 wk. OH mice exhibited higher blood pressure and worse glucose tolerance than the OC mice at 24 wk. Total triglyceride and leptin levels were significantly higher and the adiponectin level was significantly lower in OH compared with OC mice at 12 wk of age. This was associated with changes in leptin and adiponectin expression in white adipose tissue. There were lower acetylation and higher methylation levels of histone H3 at lysine 9 of the promoter of adiponectin in adipose tissues of OH mice at 2 wk of age as well as at 12 and 24 wk of age compared with OC mice. In contrast, methylation of histone 4 at lysine 20 in the leptin promoter was significantly higher in OH compared with OC mice. Thus, exposure to a high-fat diet in utero might cause a metabolic syndrome-like phenomenon through epigenetic modifications of adipocytokine, adiponectin, and leptin gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Adiponectin / genetics*
  • Adiponectin / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / genetics*
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / genetics*
  • Methylation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / genetics*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Adiponectin
  • Histones
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Triglycerides