Maternal Exercise Does Not Significantly Alter Adult Rat Offspring Vascular Function

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Abstract

Purpose

Research has revealed the role of adverse behaviors during pregnancy on metabolic and cardiovascular health outcomes in offspring. However, minimal attention has been focused on positive prenatal behaviors, such as exercise, and the effect on offspring health outcomes. The objective of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that mothers who voluntarily exercise during pregnancy would improve endothelial function in offspring from exercising compared with sedentary mothers.

Methods

Female Sprague Dawley rats were divided into sedentary (n = 10) or exercise (n = 9) groups with, the exercise group having voluntary access to a running wheel throughout gestation. Litter characteristics (weight and size) were taken 1 d after birth. After weaning, offspring were placed in sedentary cages where they remained until 4 or 8 months of age. Offspring food consumption and cage activity were assessed during a 72-h interval at 2, 4, 6, and 8 months of age. The abdominal aortas of offspring were harvested at 4 or 8 months of age, and vascular function was assessed using cumulative doses of endothelium-dependent (acetylcholine/10−10–10−4 M) and independent (sodium nitroprusside/10−10–10−4 M) vasodilators.

Results

There were no significant differences in litter size and litter weight at weaning between the sedentary and exercise groups. Food consumption and wheel running activity did not differ between the sedentary and exercise offspring at 2, 4, 6, or 8 months of age. Vasorelaxation response to acetylcholine or sodium nitroprusside did not differ between the offspring from sedentary and exercise dams.

Conclusions

Maternal voluntary wheel running during pregnancy does not significantly alter behavior or vascular function in adult offspring.

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