People in developing countries have faced multigenerational undernutrition and are currently undergoing major lifestyle changes, contributing to an epidemic of metabolic diseases, though the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Using a Wistar rat model of undernutrition over 50 generations, we show that Undernourished rats exhibit low birth-weight, high visceral adiposity (DXA/MRI), and insulin resistance (hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps), compared to age-/gender-matched control rats. Undernourished rats also have higher circulating insulin, homocysteine, endotoxin and leptin levels, lower adiponectin, vitamin B12 and folate levels, and an 8-fold increased susceptibility to Streptozotocin-induced diabetes compared to control rats. Importantly, these metabolic abnormalities are not reversed after two generations of unrestricted access to commercial chow (nutrient recuperation). Altered epigenetic signatures in insulin-2 gene promoter region of Undernourished rats are not reversed by nutrient recuperation, and may contribute to the persistent detrimental metabolic profiles in similar multigenerational undernourished human populations.
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