Maternal Vitamin D Beneficially Programs Metabolic, Gut and Bone Health of Mouse Male Offspring in an Obesogenic Environment

Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 Dec;40(12):1875-1883. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2016.177. Epub 2016 Oct 4.


Background/objectives: Vitamin D is an anti-inflammatory nutrient and a determinant of bone health. Some prospective studies suggest that maternal vitamin D status is positively associated with offspring bone mass. We found that serum concentrations of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an inflammatory molecule related to adiposity, insulin resistance and bone resorption, is lower in healthy mouse offspring exposed to high dietary vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation. LPS reaches the circulation via the gut. This study investigated whether maternal vitamin D programs metabolic, gut and bone health of male offspring in an obesogenic environment.

Methods: C57BL/6J dams received an AIN-93G diet with high (H) or low (L) vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation. At weaning, offspring remained on their dam's vitamin D level (LL or HH) or were switched (LH or HL) and fed a high fat (44.2%) and sucrose (19.8%) diet. Glucose response, adiposity, systemic inflammation (LPS, cytokines), intestinal permeability and mass, strength and microarchitecture of trabecular and cortical bone were assessed in 7-month-old male offsprings.

Results: Higher maternal dietary vitamin D resulted in lower intestinal permeability (fecal albumin, P=0.010) and benefited trabecular but not cortical bone structure at the distal femur (higher trabecular number, P=0.022; less trabecular separation, P=0.015) and lumbar vertebra 2 (bone volume/total volume%, P=0.049). Higher maternal and offspring vitamin D resulted in lower fasting glucose (HH versus LL, P=0.039) and serum LPS concentrations (dam diet, P=0.011; pup diet, P=0.002). Higher offspring vitamin D resulted in lower epididymal fat pad relative weight (P=0.006). The serum concentrations of IL-6 and TNF-α did not differ among groups.

Conclusions: Maternal dietary vitamin D beneficially programs intestinal permeability and systemic LPS concentration, which is accompanied by stronger trabecular bone in an obesogenic environment. Thus, the gut may mediate vitamin D effects. Moreover, optimizing vitamin D in early life may be critical for later health.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Trace Elements / blood
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*
  • Weaning


  • Biomarkers
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamin D