The need to refine rodent models of human-related disease is now being recognized, in particular the rearing environment that can profoundly modulate metabolic regulation. Most studies on pregnancy and fetal development purchase and transport young females into the research facility, which after a short period of acclimation are investigated (Gen0). We demonstrate that female offspring (Gen1) show an exaggerated hyperinsulinemic response to pregnancy when fed a standard diet and with high fructose intake, which continues throughout pregnancy. Markers of maternal hepatic metabolism were differentially influenced, as the gene expression of acetyl-CoA-carboxylase was raised in Gen1 given fructose and controls, whereas glucose transporter 5 and fatty acid synthase expression were only raised with fructose. Gen1 rats weighed more than Gen0 throughout the study, although fructose feeding raised the percent body fat but not body weight. We show that long-term habituation to the living environment has a profound impact on the animal's metabolic responses to nutritional intervention and pregnancy. This has important implications for interpreting many studies investigating the influence of maternal consumption of fructose on pregnancy outcomes and offspring to date.
Keywords: development; fructose; metabolism; pregnancy; type II diabetes.