Prenatal ethanol exposure enhances the susceptibility to metabolic syndrome in offspring rats by HPA axis-associated neuroendocrine metabolic programming

L P Xia, L Shen, H Kou, B J Zhang, L Zhang, Y Wu, X J Li, J Xiong, Y Yu, H Wang
Toxicology Letters 2014 April 7, 226 (1): 98-105

OBJECTIVE: The present study was designed to demonstrate that prenatal ethanol exposure (PEE) could enhance the susceptibility of high-fat diet-induced metabolic syndrome (MS) in adult male offspring via a hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis-associated neuroendocrine metabolic programmed mechanism.

METHODS: Pregnant Wistar rats were intragastricly administrated ethanol 4 g/kg·d from gestational day 11 until term delivery. All male offspring were fed with high-fat diet after weaning, exposed to an unpredictable chronic stress at postnatal week (PW) 17 and sacrificed at PW20.

RESULTS: In PEE group, body weight presented a "catch-up growth" pattern, and the HPA axis exhibited a lower basal activity but an enhanced sensitivity to chronic stress, leading to increased levels of serum glucose, insulin, insulin resistant index, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, and decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol. Furthermore, many lipid droplets and vacuolar degeneration were observed in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and liver.

CONCLUSIONS: PEE induces enhanced susceptibility to MS in adult offspring fed with high-fat diet, and the underlying mechanism involves a HPA axis-associated neuroendocrine metabolic programming alteration.

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