Sexual dimorphism in rats exposed to maternal high fat diet: alterations in medullary sympathetic network

Ayşegül Gemici, Osman Sinen, Mehmet Bülbül
Metabolic Brain Disease 2021 April 29
Exposure to high fat diet during perinatal period (PHFD) leads to neuroplastic changes in autonomic circuits, however, the role of gender has been incompletely understood. This study aims to investigate (i) short, and (ii) long-term effects of PHFD on autonomic outflow, and (iii) sexual dimorphic variations emerge at adulthood. Male and female rats were fed a control diet (13.5 % kcal from fat) or PHFD (60 % kcal from fat) from embryonic day-14 to postnatal day-21. To assess changes in autonomic outflow, heart rate variability (HRV) was analyzed at 10- and 20-week-old ages. Expressions of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), metabotropic glutamate2/3 receptor (mGlu2/3 R), N-methyl-D-aspartate1 receptor (NMDA1 R), and gamma aminobutyric acidA receptor (GABAA R) were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. PHFD did not affect the body weight of 4-, 10-or 20-week-old male or female offsprings. PHFD significantly increased the sympathetic marker low frequency (LF) component, and sympatho-vagal balance (LF:HF) only in 10-week-old PHFD males. Compared with control, the propranolol-induced (4 mg·kg- 1 , ip) decline in LF was observed more prominently in PHFD rats, however, these changes were found to be restored at the age of 20 weeks. In caudal ventrolateral medulla and nucleus tractus solitarius, expression of mGlu2/3 R was downregulated in PHFD males, whereas no change was detected in NMDA1 R. The number of GABAA R-expressing TH-immunoreactive cells was decreased in rostral ventrolateral medulla of PHFD males. The findings of this study suggest that exposure to maternal high-fat diet could lead to autonomic imbalance with increased sympathetic tone in the early adulthood of male offspring rats without developing obesity.

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