Suboptimal maternal nutrition and body composition are implicated in metabolic disease risk in adult offspring. We hypothesized that modest disruption of glucose homeostasis previously observed in young adult sheep offspring from ewes of a lower body condition score (BCS) would deteriorate with age, due to changes in skeletal muscle structure and insulin signaling mechanisms. Ewes were fed to achieve a lower (LBCS, n = 10) or higher (HBCS, n = 14) BCS before and during pregnancy. Baseline plasma glucose, glucose tolerance and basal glucose uptake into isolated muscle strips were similar in male offspring at 210 ± 4 weeks. Vastus total myofiber density (HBCS, 343 ± 15; LBCS, 294 ± 14 fibers/mm(2), P < .05) and fast myofiber density (HBCS, 226 ± 10; LBCS 194 ± 10 fibers/mm(2), P < .05), capillary to myofiber ratio (HBCS, 1.5 ± 0.1; LBCS 1.2 ± 0.1 capillary:myofiber, P < .05) were lower in LBCS offspring. Vastus protein levels of Akt1 were lower (83% ± 7% of HBCS, P < .05), and total glucose transporter 4 was increased (157% ± 6% of HBCS, P < .001) in LBCS offspring, Despite the reduction in total myofiber density in LBCS offspring, glucose tolerance was normal in mature adult life. However, such adaptations may lead to complications in metabolic control in an overabundant postnatal nutrient environment.
Keywords: glucose uptake; maternal body condition; myofibers; skeletal muscle; type 2 diabetes.