Diet-induced changes in maternal gut microbiota and metabolomic profiles influence programming of offspring obesity risk in rats

Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 12;6:20683. doi: 10.1038/srep20683.


Maternal obesity and overnutrition during pregnancy and lactation can program an increased risk of obesity in offspring. In this context, improving maternal metabolism may help reduce the intergenerational transmission of obesity. Here we show that, in Sprague-Dawley rats, selectively altering obese maternal gut microbial composition with prebiotic treatment reduces maternal energy intake, decreases gestational weight gain, and prevents increased adiposity in dams and their offspring. Maternal serum metabolomics analysis, along with satiety hormone and gut microbiota analysis, identified maternal metabolic signatures that could be implicated in programming offspring obesity risk and highlighted the potential influence of maternal gut microbiota on maternal and offspring metabolism. In particular, the metabolomic signature of insulin resistance in obese rats normalized when dams consumed the prebiotic. In summary, prebiotic intake during pregnancy and lactation improves maternal metabolism in diet-induced obese rats in a manner that attenuates the detrimental nutritional programming of offspring associated with maternal obesity. Overall, these findings contribute to our understanding of the maternal mechanisms influencing the developmental programming of offspring obesity and provide compelling pre-clinical evidence for a potential strategy to improve maternal and offspring metabolic outcomes in human pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / drug effects
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Hyperglycemia / pathology
  • Lactation / drug effects
  • Metabolomics*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology
  • Prebiotics
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Risk Factors
  • Weaning
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Hormones
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics
  • oligofructose