Maternal high-protein or high-prebiotic-fiber diets affect maternal milk composition and gut microbiota in rat dams and their offspring

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Nov;22(11):2344-51. doi: 10.1002/oby.20849. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Objective: Maternal gut microbiota and milk composition could modify offspring microbiota and therefore disease susceptibility. The effect of maternal high-protein (HP) or prebiotic diets on maternal milk composition and gut microbiota in rat dams and offspring was examined.

Methods: Wistar rat dams were fed a control, HP (40% wt/wt), or high-prebiotic-fiber (21.6% wt/wt) (HF) diet throughout pregnancy and lactation. Pups were challenged with a high-fat/sucrose diet from 14.5 to 22.5 weeks of age. Dam milk was analyzed for fat, protein, and oligosaccharides (OS). Fecal microbiota was analyzed in dams at parturition and 2 weeks post-partum and in offspring at 5 and 22 weeks along with cecal digesta at termination.

Results: Maternal milk differed only in OS content, each diet group being distinguishable. HF1 and HP1 offspring had decreased plasma lipopolysaccharide compared with C1. Offspring sex, maternal diet, and time (5 weeks vs. 22 weeks of age) affected the microbial groups examined. Bifidobacteria was higher in HF dams and offspring.

Conclusions: Increasing protein or fiber content in maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation modifies milk OS content and gut microbiota of dams which may influence establishment of gut microbiota in offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Intestines* / drug effects
  • Intestines* / microbiology
  • Lactation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Microbiota / drug effects*
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / drug effects*
  • Prebiotics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Prebiotics