Enriched Environment-Induced Maternal Weight Loss Reprograms Metabolic Gene Expression in Mouse Offspring [Developmental Biology]

January 2nd, 2015 by Wei, Y., Yang, C.-R., Wei, Y.-P., Ge, Z.-J., Zhao, Z.-A., Zhang, B., Hou, Y., Schatten, H., Sun, Q.-Y.

The global prevalence of weight loss is increasing, especially in young women. However, the extent and mechanisms by which maternal weight loss affects the offspring is still poorly understood. Here using an enriched environment (EE)-induced weight loss model, we show that maternal weight loss improves the general health and reprograms metabolic gene expression in mouse offspring, and the epigenetic alterations can be inherited for at least two generations. EE in mothers induced weight loss and its associated physiological and metabolic changes such as decreased adiposity and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Relative to controls, their offspring exhibited improved general health such as reduced fat accumulation, decreased plasmic and hepatic lipid levels, as well as improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Maternal weight loss altered gene expression patterns in the liver of offspring, with coherent downregulation of genes involved in lipid and cholesterol biosynthesis. Epigenomic profiling of offspring livers revealed numerous changes in cytosine methylation depending on maternal weight loss, including reproducible changes in promoter methylation over several key lipid biosynthesis genes, correlated with their expression patterns. Embryo transfer studies indicated that oocyte alteration responding to maternal metabolic conditions is a strong factor in determining metabolic and epigenetic changes in offspring. Several important lipid metabolism-related genes have been identified to partially inherit methylated alleles from oocytes. Our study reveals a molecular and mechanistic basis of how maternal lifestyle modification affects metabolic changes in the offspring.