Fructose consumption during pregnancy and lactation induces fatty liver and glucose intolerance in rats

Nutr Res. 2012 Aug;32(8):588-98. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.012. Epub 2012 Aug 2.


Nutritional insults during pregnancy and lactation are health risks for mother and offspring. Both fructose (FR) and low-protein (LP) diets are linked to hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance in nonpregnant animals. We hypothesized that dietary FR or LP intake during pregnancy may exacerbate the already compromised glucose homeostasis to induce gestational diabetes and fatty liver. Therefore, we investigated and compared the effects of LP or FR intake on hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance in unmated controls (CTs) and pregnant and lactating rats. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a CT, or a 63% FR, or an 8% LP diet. Glucose tolerance test at day 17 of the study revealed greater (P < .05) blood glucose at 10 (75.6 mg/dL vs 64.0 ± 4.8 mg/dL) minutes and 20 (72.4 mg/dL vs 58.6 ± 4.0 mg/dL) minutes after glucose dose and greater area under the curve (4302.3 mg∙dL(-1)∙min(-1) vs 3763.4 ± 263.6 mg∙dL(-1)∙min(-1)) for FR-fed dams compared with CT-fed dams. The rats were euthanized at 21 days postpartum. Both the FR- and LP-fed dams had enlarged (P < .05) livers (9.3%, 7.1% body weight vs 4.8% ± 0.2% body weight) and elevated (P < .05) liver triacylglycerol (216.0, 130.0 mg/g vs 19.9 ± 12.6 mg/g liver weight) compared with CT-fed dams. Fructose induced fatty liver and glucose intolerance in pregnant and lactating rats, but not unmated CT rats. The data demonstrate a unique physiological status response to diet resulting in the development of gestational diabetes coupled with hepatic steatosis in FR-fed dams, which is more severe than an LP diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diabetes, Gestational / blood
  • Diabetes, Gestational / etiology*
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Liver / blood
  • Fatty Liver / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fructose / adverse effects*
  • Glucose Intolerance / blood
  • Glucose Intolerance / etiology*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Homeostasis
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lactation
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Triglycerides
  • Fructose