Postnatal Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Rescues Glucocorticoid-Programmed Adiposity, Hypertension, and Hyperlipidemia in Male Rat Offspring Raised on a High-Fat Diet

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Abstract

Fetal glucocorticoid excess programs several adverse outcomes in adult offspring, many of which can be prevented by postnatal, dietary omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids. Here we tested 2 separate hypotheses: 1) a postnatal high-fat diet exacerbates the glucocorticoid-programmed phenotype; and 2) postnatal, dietary n-3 fatty acids rescue programmed outcomes, even in the presence of a high-fat diet challenge. Pregnant Wistar rat dams were either untreated or administered dexamethasone acetate (Dex; 0.5 μg/mL drinking water) from day 13 of pregnancy. Offspring were cross-fostered to untreated mothers and males were weaned onto a standard (Std), high-fat, low n-3 (HF), or high-fat, high n-3 (HFHn-3) diet. Prenatal Dex reduced birth weight (26%) and delayed puberty onset by 1.2 days, irrespective of postnatal diet. Prenatal Dex programmed increased blood pressure in adult offspring, an effect worsened by the postnatal HF diet. Supplementation with high n-3 fatty acids, however, prevented both the Dex and HF-induced increases in blood pressure. Prenatal Dex also programmed increased adiposity, plasma cholesterol, and plasma triglyceride levels at 6 months of age, particularly in those offspring raised on the HF diet. But again, each of these adverse outcomes was rescued by supplementation of the HF diet with n-3 fatty acids. In conclusion, the capacity of n-3 fatty acids to overcome adverse programming outcomes remains evident, even in the presence of a HF diet challenge.

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