Although prenatal and postnatal programming of metabolic diseases in adulthood is well established, the mechanisms underpinning metabolic programming are not. Dlk1, a key regulator of fetal development, inhibits adipocyte differentiation and restricts fetal growth.
Assess DLk1 expression in a Wistar rat model of catch-up growth following intrauterine restriction. Dams fed ad libitum delivered control pups (C) and dams on a 50% calorie-restricted diet delivered pups with low birth weight (R). Restricted offspring fed a standard rat chow showed catch-up growth (R/C) but those kept on a calorie-restricted diet did not (R/R).
Decreased Dlk1 expression was observed in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle of R/C pups along with excessive visceral fat accumulation, decreased circulating adiponectin, increased triglycerides and HOMA-IR (from p < 0.05 to p < 0.0001). Moreover, in R/C pups the reduced Dlk1 expression in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle correlated with visceral fat (r = −0.820, p < 00001) and HOMA-IR (r = −0.745, p = 0.002).
Decreased Dlk1 expression relates to visceral fat expansion and insulin resistance in a rat model of catch-up growth following prenatal growth restriction. Modulation of Dlk1 expression could be among the targets for the early prevention of fetal programming of adult metabolic disorders.
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We would like to thank Dr. Glòria Oliveras Serrat and Ms. Yaiza Martin Gonzalez for the preparation of the tissue histological sections. The study was supported by grant no. PI13/01257 (to A.L.-B.) from the National Institute of Health Carlos III (Fund for Health Research FIS, Spain), project co-financed by FEDER.