Age-Dependent Control of Energy Homeostasis by Brown Adipose Tissue in Progeny Subjected to Maternal Diet-Induced Fetal Programming

Epidemiological and animal studies show that deleterious maternal environments predispose aging offspring to metabolic disorders and type 2 diabetes. Young progenies in a rat model of maternal low-protein (LP) diet are normoglycemic despite collapsed insulin secretion. However, without further worsening of the insulin secretion defect, glucose homeostasis deteriorates in aging LP descendants. Here we report that normoglycemic and insulinopenic 3-month-old LP progeny shows increased body temperature and energy dissipation in association with enhanced brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity. In addition, it is protected against a cold challenge and high-fat diet (HFD)–induced obesity with associated insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. Surgical BAT ablation in 3-month-old LP offspring normalizes body temperature and causes postprandial hyperglycemia. At 10 months, BAT activity declines in LP progeny with the appearance of reduced protection to HFD-induced obesity; at 18 months, LP progeny displays a BAT activity comparable to control offspring and insulin resistance and hyperglycemia occur. Together our findings identify BAT as a decisive physiological determinant of the onset of metabolic dysregulation in offspring predisposed to altered β-cell function and hyperglycemia and place it as a critical regulator of fetal programming of adult metabolic disease.

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