Hypothalamic oxidative stress and inflammation, and peripheral glucose homeostasis in Sprague-Dawley rat offspring exposed to maternal and postnatal chocolate and soft drink

Nutr Diabetes. 2018 Jul 19;8(1):44. doi: 10.1038/s41387-018-0051-z.


Background: Predisposition to obesity and type 2 diabetes can arise during foetal development and in early postnatal life caused by imbalances in maternal nutritional overload. We aimed to investigate the effects of maternal and postnatal intake of chocolate and soft drink on hypothalamic anti-oxidative stress markers, inflammation and peripheral glucose homeostasis.

Methods: Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were fed ad libitum chow diet only (C) or with chocolate and high sucrose soft drink supplements (S). At birth, litter size was adjusted into 10 male offspring per dam. After weaning at 3 weeks of age, offspring from both dietary groups were assigned to either S or C diet, giving four groups until the end of the experiment at 26 weeks of age.

Results: Offspring exposed to maternal S had up-regulated hypothalamic anti-oxidative markers such as SOD2 and catalase at 3 weeks of age as an indication of oxidative stress. However, at 12 weeks of age these anti-oxidative markers tended to decrease while pro-inflammatory markers such as TNF and IL-1β became up-regulated of all offspring exposed to S diet during some point of their life. Thus, despite an increase in anti-oxidative stress response, offspring exposed to maternal S had a reduced ability to counteract hypothalamic inflammation. At the same time point, postnatal S resulted in increased adiposity, reduced glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity with no effect on body weight. However, at 25 weeks of age, the impaired glucose tolerance was reversible to the response of the control regardless of increased adiposity and body weight pointing towards a compensatory response of the insulin sensitivity or insulin secretion.

Conclusion: Indications of hypothalamic oxidative stress was observed prior to the inflammatory response in offspring exposed to maternal S. Both maternal and postnatal S induced hypothalamic inflammation prior to increased weight gain and thus contributing to obese phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Carbonated Beverages*
  • Chocolate*
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Blood Glucose