Prenatal hypoxia, a common outcome of pregnancy complications, predisposes offspring to the development of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders in later life. We have previously observed that resveratrol improved cardiovascular and metabolic health in adult male rat offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia and a postnatal high-fat (HF) diet; however, the effects of resveratrol in female rat offspring are not known. Our aim was to identify the mechanism(s) by which resveratrol may prevent metabolic and cardiac dysfunction in both male and female rat offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia and a postnatal HF diet. Offspring that experienced normoxia or hypoxia in utero were fed a HF diet or a HF diet supplemented with resveratrol for 9 weeks following weaning. Body composition, metabolic function, in vivo cardiac function and ex vivo cardiac susceptibility to ischaemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury were assessed at 12 weeks of age. Prenatal hypoxia impaired metabolic function in male, but not female, rat offspring fed a HF diet and this was improved by resveratrol supplementation. Prenatal hypoxia also led to reduced recovery from cardiac I/R injury in male, and to a lesser extent in female, rat offspring fed a HF diet. Indices of cardiac oxidative stress after I/R were enhanced in both male and female rat offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia. Resveratrol improved cardiac recovery from I/R injury and attenuated superoxide levels in both male and female rat offspring. In conclusion, prenatal hypoxia impaired metabolic and cardiac function in a sex-specific manner. Resveratrol supplementation may improve metabolic and cardiovascular health in adult male and female rat offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia.
© 2015 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2015 The Physiological Society.