Effects of maternal taurine supplementation on maternal dietary intake, plasma metabolites and fetal growth and development in cafeteria diet fed rats

PeerJ. 2021 Jun 3;9:e11547. doi: 10.7717/peerj.11547. eCollection 2021.


Background: Maternal obesity may disrupt the developmental process of the fetus during gestation in rats. Recent evidence suggests that taurine can exert protective role against detrimental influence of obesogenic diets. This study aimed to examine the effect of maternal cafeteria diet and/or taurine supplementation on maternal dietary intake, plasma metabolites, fetal growth and development.

Methods: Female Wistar rats were fed a control diet (CON), CON supplemented with 1.5% taurine in drinking water (CONT), cafeteria diet (CAF) or CAF supplemented with taurine (CAFT) from weaning. After 8 weeks all animals were mated and maintained on the same diets during pregnancy and lactation.

Results: Dietary intakes were significantly different between the groups. Both CAF and CAFT fed dams consumed less water in comparison to CON and CONT dams. Taurine supplementation only increased plasma taurine concentrations in CONT group. Maternal plasma adiponectin concentrations increased in CAF and CAFT fed dams compared to CON and CONT fed dams and there was no effect of taurine. Hyperleptinemia was observed in CAF fed dams but not in CAFT fed dams. Malondialdehyde was significantly increased only in CAF fed dams. Litter size, sex ratio and birth weight were similar between the groups. There was an increase in neonatal mortality in CONT group.

Discussion: This study showed that maternal taurine supplementation exerted modest protective effects on cafeteria diet induced maternal obesity. The increased neonatal mortality in CONT neonates indicates possible detrimental effects of taurine supplementation in the setting of normal pregnancy. Therefore, future studies should investigate the optimal dose of taurine supplementation and long term potential effects on the offspring.

Keywords: Cafeteria diet; Obesity; Pregnancy; Rat; Taurine.

Grant support

This work was funded by the the Scientific And Technological Research Council Of Turkey (No.115S538) and Scientific Research Projects Coordination Unit of Hacettepe University (No.TDK-2019-17813). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.