In utero vitamin D deficiency predisposes offspring to long-term adverse adipose tissue effects

J Endocrinol. 2017 Sep;234(3):301-313. doi: 10.1530/JOE-17-0015. Epub 2017 Jul 4.


The fetal period represents an important window of susceptibility for later obesity and metabolic disease. Maternal vitamin D deficiency (VDD) during pregnancy is a global concern that may have long-lasting consequences on offspring metabolic health. We sought to determine whether a VDD in utero environment affects fetal adipose tissue development and offspring metabolic disease predisposition in adulthood. Furthermore, we sought to explore the extent to which the VDD intrauterine environment interacts with genetic background or postnatal environment to influence metabolic health. Eight-week-old P0 female C57BL/6J mice were fed either a VDD diet or sufficient diet (VDS) from four weeks before pregnancy (periconception) then bred to male Avy/a mice. Females were maintained on the diets throughout gestation. At weaning, Avy/a and a/a male F1 offspring were randomized to low-fat (LFD) or high-fat diet (HFD) until 19 weeks of age, at which point serum and adipose tissue were harvested for analyses. Mice born to VDD dams weighed less at weaning than offspring born to VDS dams but experienced rapid weight gain in the four weeks post weaning, and acquired a greater ratio of perigonadal (PGAT) to subcutaneous (SQAT) than control offspring. Additionally, these mice were more susceptible to HFD-induced adipocyte hypertrophy. Offspring of VDD dams also had greater expression of Pparg transcript. These novel findings demonstrate that in utero VDD, an easily correctable but highly prevalent health concern, predisposes offspring to long-term adipose tissue consequences and possible adverse metabolic health complications.

Keywords: DOHaD; Pparg transcript; agouti mouse; fetal programming; metabolic health; nutrition; obesogenic models; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / genetics
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / embryology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / genetics
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism


  • Vitamin D