Endocrinology and Metabolism

Metabolic programming effects initiated in the suckling period predisposing for adult-onset obesity cannot be reversed by calorie restriction

Malathi Srinivasan, Saleh Mahmood, Mulchand S. Patel


Neonatal rats reared on high-carbohydrate (HC) milk formula developed chronic hyperinsulinemia and adult-onset obesity due to programming of islets and the hypothalamic energy circuitry. In this study, calorie restriction by pair-feeding was imposed on HC male rats (HC/PF) to normalize food intake similar to that of mother-fed (MF) rats from weaning until postnatal day 140. A group of HC/PF rats was switched over to ad libitum feeding (HC/PF/AL) from days 90 to 140. Pair-feeding reduced body weight gains and serum insulin and leptin levels in HC/PF rats compared with HC rats, but these parameters were restored to HC levels in the HC/PF/AL rats after ad libitum feeding. Interestingly, the heightened insulin secretory response of isolated islets from adult HC/PF and HC/PF/ AL rats to glucose, acetylcholine, and oxymetazoline were not significantly different from the responses of islets from HC rats. Similarly, the expression of neuropeptide Y and proopiomelanocortin in the hypothalamus was not significantly different among HC, HC/PF, and HC/PF/AL rats. Expression of the leptin receptor in the hypothalami from the HC, HC/PF, and HC/PF/AL rats mirrored that of serum leptin, whereas suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (Socs3) expression remained high in these three groups. The results indicate that, although calorie restriction resulted in reduction in body weight gain and normalized the serum hormonal pattern, the programed predisposition for the hypersecretory capacity of islets and the hypothalamic hyperphagic response in the HC rats could not be permanently overcome by the pair-feeding imposed on HC rats.

  • obesity
  • hyperinsulinemia
  • calorie restriction by pair feeding
  • metabolic programing
  • suckling period
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