Trans fat intake during pregnancy or lactation increases anxiety-like behavior and alters proinflammatory cytokines and glucocorticoid receptor levels in the hippocampus of adult offspring

Brain Res Bull. 2021 Jan:166:110-117. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2020.11.016. Epub 2020 Nov 23.


Changes in dietary habits, including the increased consumption of processed foods, rich in trans fatty acids (TFA), have profound effects on offspring health in later life. Thus, this study aimed to assess the influence of maternal trans fat intake during pregnancy or lactation on anxiety behavior, as well as markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and expression of glucocorticoid receptors (GR) of adult male offspring. Female Wistar rats were supplemented daily with soybean oil/fish oil (SO/FO) or hydrogenated vegetable fat (HVF) by oral gavage (3.0 g/kg body weight) during pregnancy or lactation. After weaning, male offspring received only standard diet. On the postnatal day 60, anxiety-like symptoms were assessed, the plasma was collected for the quantification of cytokines levels and the hippocampus removed for biochemical and molecular analysis. Our findings have evidenced that offspring from HVF-supplemented dams during pregnancy or lactation showed significantly greater levels of anxiety behavior. HVF supplementation increased plasma levels of proinflammatory cytokines and these levels were higher in the lactation period. In contrast, HVF supplementation decreased plasma levels of IL-10 in relation to SO/FO in both periods. Biochemical evaluations showed higher reactive species generation, protein carbonyl levels and catalase activity in offspring from HVF-supplemented dams during lactation. In addition, offspring from HVF-supplemented dams showed decreased GR expression in both supplemented periods. Together, these data indicate that consumption of TFA in different periods of development may increase anxiety-like behavior at least in part via alterations in proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine levels and GR expression in limbic brain regions.

Keywords: Anxiety behavior; Inflammatory cytokines; Perinatal; Trans fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Trans Fatty Acids / toxicity*


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Trans Fatty Acids