Maternal high folic acid supplement promotes glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in male mouse offspring fed a high-fat diet

Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Apr 14;15(4):6298-313. doi: 10.3390/ijms15046298.


Maternal nutrition may influence metabolic profiles in offspring. We aimed to investigate the effect of maternal folic acid supplement on glucose metabolism in mouse offspring fed a high-fat diet (HFD). Sixty C57BL/6 female mice were randomly assigned into three dietary groups and fed the AIN-93G diet containing 2 (control), 5 (recommended folic acid supplement, RFolS) or 40 (high folic acid supplement, HFolS) mg folic acid/kg of diet. All male offspring were fed HFD for eight weeks. Physiological, biochemical and genetic variables were measured. Before HFD feeding, developmental variables and metabolic profiles were comparable among each offspring group. However, after eight weeks of HFD feeding, the offspring of HFolS dams (Off-HFolS) were more vulnerable to suffer from obesity (p=0.009), glucose intolerance (p<0.001) and insulin resistance (p<0.001), compared with the controls. Off-HFolS had reduced serum adiponectin concentration, accompanied with decreased adiponectin mRNA level but increased global DNA methylation level in white adipose tissue. In conclusion, our results suggest maternal HFolS exacerbates the detrimental effect of HFD on glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in male offspring, implying that HFolS during pregnancy should be adopted cautiously in the general population of pregnant women to avoid potential deleterious effect on the metabolic diseases in their offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Adiponectin / genetics
  • Adiponectin / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation / drug effects
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Intolerance / etiology*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Adipokines
  • Adiponectin
  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Folic Acid