Effect of high-fat diet on secreted milk transcriptome in midlactation mice

Physiol Genomics. 2017 Dec 1;49(12):747-762. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00080.2017. Epub 2017 Nov 1.


High-fat diet (HFD) during lactation alters milk composition and is associated with development of metabolic diseases in the offspring. We hypothesized that HFD affects milk microRNA (miRNA) and mRNA content, which potentially impact offspring development. Our objective was to determine the effect of maternal HFD on secreted milk transcriptome. To meet this objective, 4 wk old female ICR mice were divided into two treatments: control diet containing 10% kcal fat and HFD containing 60% kcal fat. After 4 wk on CD or HFD, mice were bred while continuously fed the same diets. On postnatal day 2 (P2), litters were normalized to 10 pups, and half the pups in each litter were cross-fostered between treatments. Milk was collected from dams on P10 and P12. Total RNA was isolated from milk fat fraction of P10 samples and used for mRNA-Seq and small RNA-Seq. P12 milk was used to determine macronutrient composition. After 4 wk of prepregnancy feeding HFD mice weighed significantly more than did the control mice. Lactose and fat concentration were significantly ( P < 0.05) higher in milk of HFD dams. Pup weight was significantly greater ( P < 0.05) in groups suckled by HFD vs. control dams. There were 25 miRNA and over 1,500 mRNA differentially expressed (DE) in milk of HFD vs. control dams. DE mRNA and target genes of DE miRNA enriched categories that were primarily related to multicellular organismal development. Maternal HFD impacts mRNA and miRNA content of milk, if bioactive nucleic acids are absorbed by neonate differences may affect development.

Keywords: high-fat diet; lactation; mRNA; microRNA; milk; transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Fats / analysis
  • Female
  • Lactation / genetics
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Lactose / analysis
  • Mice
  • Milk / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • Transcriptome / physiology


  • Fats
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Lactose