Intrauterine exposure to flavonoids modifies antioxidant status at adulthood and decreases oxidative stress-induced DNA damage

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Maternal intake of flavonoids, known for their antioxidant properties, may affect the offspring's susceptibility to developing chronic diseases at adult age, especially those related to oxidative stress, via developmental programming. Therefore, we supplemented female mice with the flavonoids genistein and quercetin during gestation, to study their effect on the antioxidant capacity of lung and liver of adult offspring. Maternal intake of quercetin increased the expression of Nrf2 and Sod2 in fetal liver at gestational day 14.5. At adult age, in utero exposure to both flavonoids resulted in the increased expression of several enzymatic antioxidant genes, which was more pronounced in the liver than in the adult lung. Moreover, prenatal genistein exposure induced the nonenzymatic antioxidant capacity in the adult lung, partly by increasing glutathione levels. Prenatal exposure to both flavonoids resulted in significantly lower levels of oxidative stress-induced DNA damage in liver only. Our observations lead to the hypothesis that a preemptive trigger of the antioxidant defense system in utero had a persistent effect on antioxidant capacity and as a result decreased oxidative stress-induced DNA damage in the liver.

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