Exposure to maternal obesogenic diet worsens some but not all pre-cancer phenotypes in a murine genetic model of prostate cancer

PLoS One. 2017 May 10;12(5):e0175764. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175764. eCollection 2017.


Prostate cancer research has been predominantly focused on adult exposures and risk factors. However, because the prostate develops during gestation and early life, exposure to external factors, such as obesity, during development could affect the prostate cancer progression in adults. Our previous work demonstrated that exposure to a high fat/high sugar (HF/HS) diet during gestation and until weaning stimulated prostate hyperplasia and altered the Pten/Akt pathway in adult mice fed a normal diet after weaning. Here, we asked whether maternal exposure to HF/HS would worsen prostate phenotypes in mice lacking Pten, a widely accepted driver of prostate cancer. We found that, at six weeks of age, both Chow (control)-and HF/HS-exposed Pten knockout mice showed evidence of murine PIN that included ducts with central comedo necrosis but that the HF/HS exposure did not influence murine PIN progression. The Pten knockout mice exposed to HF/HS in utero had significantly more mitotic cells than Pten knockouts exposed to Chow diet. In the Pten null background, the maternal HF/HS diet enhanced proliferation but did not have an additive effect on Akt activation. We observed neuroendocrine differentiation in Pten knockout mice, a phenotype that had not been previously described in this model.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Pregnancy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Pten protein, mouse