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Influence of maternal low protein diet during pregnancy on hepatic gene expression signature in juvenile female porcine offspring


Correspondence: Dr. Cornelia C. Metges, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany


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Epidemiological and experimental evidence indicates that maternal nutrition status contributes to long-term changes in the metabolic phenotype of the offspring, a process known as fetal programming.

Methods and results

We have used a swine model (Sus scrofa) to analyze consequences of a maternal low protein diet (about 50% of control) during pregnancy on hepatic lipid metabolism and genome-wide hepatic gene expression profile of juvenile female offspring (mean age 85 days). We found 318 S. scrofa genes to be differentially expressed in the liver at age 85 days. In the low protein offspring group key genes of fatty acid de novo synthesis were downregulated whereas several genes of lipolysis and phospholipid biosynthesis were upregulated. qRT-PCR analysis of selected genes verified microarray data and revealed linear correlations between gene expression levels and slaughter weight. Hepatic cholesterol 7α hydroxylase protein expression tended to be lower in the low protein group. Total lipid and triglyceride content and fatty acid composition of total lipids were not different between groups.


A maternal low protein diet during pregnancy induces a distinct hepatic gene expression signature in juvenile female pigs which was not translated into phenotypical changes of liver lipid metabolism.