Maternal beef and postweaning herring diets increase bone mineral density and strength in mouse offspring

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2013 Dec;238(12):1362-9. doi: 10.1177/1535370213506436. Epub 2013 Oct 24.


The maternal diet during gestation and lactation affects the long-term health of the offspring. We sought to determine whether maternal and postweaning crossover isocaloric diets based on fish or meat affect the geometry, mineral density, and biomechanical properties of bone in mouse offspring in adulthood. During gestation and lactation, C57BL/6 dams were fed a herring- or beef-based diet. After weaning, half of the pups in each group were fed the same diet as their dams, and half were fed the other diet. Areal bone mineral density (aBMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) of the whole body and lumbar spine were measured in the offspring by dual X-ray absorptiometry at 9 and 21 weeks of age. At 22-26 weeks, tibia bone geometry (length, cortical volumetric (v) BMD, BMC, area and thickness) was analyzed by peripheral quantitative computed tomography, and the biomechanical properties of the tibia were analyzed by the three-point bending test. Plasma insulin-like growth factor-1 was analyzed at 12 weeks. In comparison to the maternal herring diet, the maternal beef diet increased aBMD and BMC in the whole body and lumbar spine of adult offspring, as well as cortical vBMD, BMC, bone area, and thickness at the mid-diaphyseal region of the tibia and the biomechanical properties of tibia strength. In contrast, a postweaning beef diet decreased aBMD in the lumbar spine and BMC in the whole body and lumbar spine compared with a postweaning herring diet, which instead increased plasma insulin-like growth factor-1 levels. The change from a maternal beef diet before weaning to a herring diet after weaning decreased body weight and increased the cortical area, vBMD, BMC, thickness, and strength of the tibia. These significant crossover effects indicate that a preweaning maternal beef diet and a postweaning herring diet are optimal for increasing BMC and bone strength in offspring in adulthood.

Keywords: Maternal and postweaning diet; bone mineral density and content; fatty fish; red meat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Animals
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Cattle
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Hardness / drug effects
  • Hardness / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Leptin / blood
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / anatomy & histology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / drug effects
  • Meat
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology
  • Tibia / drug effects
  • Weaning


  • Leptin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I