Maternal high fat diet induces early cardiac hypertrophy and alters cardiac metabolism in Sprague Dawley rat offspring

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2018 Jun;28(6):600-609. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2018.02.019. Epub 2018 Mar 13.


Background and aim: Maternal high fat diets (mHFD) have been associated with an increased offspring cardiovascular risk. Recently we found that the class IIa HDAC-MEF2 pathway regulates gene programs controlling fatty acid oxidation in striated muscle. This same pathway controls hypertrophic responses in the heart. We hypothesized that mHFD is associated with activation of signal controlling class II a HDAC activity and activation of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation and cardiac hypertrophy in offspring.

Methods and results: Female Sprague Dawley rats were fed either normal fat diet (12%) or high fat diet (43%) three weeks prior to mating, remaining on diets until study completion. Hearts of postnatal day 1 (PN1) and PN10 pups were collected. Bioenergetics and respiration analyses were performed in neonatal ventricular cardiomyocytes (NVCM). In offspring exposed to mHFD, body weight was increased at PN10 accompanied by increased body fat percentage and blood glucose. Heart weight and heart weight to body weight ratio were increased at PN1 and PN10, and were associated with elevated signalling through the AMPK-class IIa HDAC-MEF2 axis. The expression of the MEF2-regulated hypertrophic markers ANP and BNP were increased as were expression of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation. However this was only accompanied by an increased protein expression of fatty acid oxidation enzymes at PN10. NVCM isolated from these pups exhibited increased glycolysis and an impaired substrate flexibility.

Conclusion: Combined, these results suggest that mHFD induces signalling and transcriptional events indicative of reprogrammed cardiac metabolism and of cardiac hypertrophy in Sprague Dawley rat offspring.

Keywords: Cardiac hypertrophy; Cardiac metabolism; Cardiovascular risk; Maternal high fat diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cardiomegaly / etiology*
  • Cardiomegaly / genetics
  • Cardiomegaly / metabolism
  • Cardiomegaly / physiopathology
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Energy Metabolism* / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • MEF2 Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction
  • Weight Gain


  • Blood Glucose
  • MEF2 Transcription Factors
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Histone Deacetylases