Fetal leptin is a signal of fat mass independent of maternal nutrition in ewes fed at or above maintenance energy requirements

Muhlhausler, B. S. and Roberts, C. T. and McFarlane, J. R. and Kauter, K. G. and McMillen, I. C. (2002) Fetal leptin is a signal of fat mass independent of maternal nutrition in ewes fed at or above maintenance energy requirements. Biology of Reproduction, 67 (2). pp. 493-499. ISSN 0006-3363


In adults, circulating leptin concentrations are dependent on body fat content and on current nutritional status. However, the relationships among maternal nutrient intake, fetal adiposity, and circulating leptin concentrations before birth are unknown. We investigated the effects of an increase in nutrient intake in the pregnant ewe on fetal adiposity and plasma leptin concentrations during late gestation. Between 115 and 139-141 days gestation (term = 147 ± 3 days gestation), ewes were fed a diet calculated to provide either maintenance (control, n = 6) or ∼155% of maintenance requirements (well.fed, n = 8). The fetal fat depots (perirenal and interscapular) were dissected, and the relative proportion of unilocular and multilocular adipocytes in each depot was determined. Maternal plasma glucose and leptin concentrations were significantly increased in well-fed ewes. Fetal plasma glucose concentrations were also higher in the well-fed group (115-139 days gestation: control, 1.65 ± 0.14 mmol/L; well-fed, 2.00 ± 0.14 mmol/L; F = 5.76, P < 0.04). There was no effect of increasing maternal feed intake on total fat mass, the relative mass of unilocular fat, or fetal plasma leptin concentrations (115-139 days gestation: control, 5.2 ± 0.8 ng/ml; well-fed, 4.7 ±0.7 ng/ml). However, in both the control and well-fed groups fetal plasma leptin concentrations (y) were positively correlated with the relative mass of unilocular fat (x): y = 1.51x + 1.70; (R = 0.76, P< 0.01). Thus, fetal leptin may play a role as a signal of unilocular fat mass in the fetus when maternal nutrient intake is at or above maintenance requirements.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to paper due to publisher's copyright restrictions.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2010 07:13
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2016 00:31
Uncontrolled Keywords: pregnancy; glucose; leptin; insulin; maternal nutrition; sheep production
Fields of Research : 06 Biological Sciences > 0606 Physiology > 060699 Physiology not elsewhere classified
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0702 Animal Production > 070204 Animal Nutrition
06 Biological Sciences > 0606 Physiology > 060602 Animal Physiology - Cell
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
B Economic Development > 83 Animal Production and Animal Primary Products > 8303 Livestock Raising > 830399 Livestock Raising not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1095/biolreprod67.2.493
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/7753

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