miR-148a/LDLR mediates hypercholesterolemia induced by prenatal dexamethasone exposure in male offspring rats

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Epidemiology suggests that adverse environmental exposure during pregnancy may predispose children to hypercholesterolemia in adulthood. This study aimed to demonstrate hypercholesterolemia induced by prenatal dexamethasone exposure (PDE) in adult male offspring rats and explore the intrauterine programming mechanisms. Pregnant Wistar rats were injected subcutaneously with dexamethasone (0, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 mg/kg·d) from gestational days (GD) 9 to 21, and the serum and liver of the male offsprings were collected at GD21, postnatal week (PW) 12 and 28. Furthermore, the effects of dexamethasone on the expression of low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and its epigenetic mechanism was confirmed in the bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) hepatoid differentiated cells and continuous hepatocyte line. PDE could reduce the birth weight of male offsprings, increase the serum total cholesterol (TCH) level in adult rats, and decrease the liver low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) expression. Serum TCH level and liver LDLR expression were decreased in PDE male fetuses in utero (GD21). Moreover, PDE increased the translocation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in the fetal liver, the expression of DiGeorge syndrome critical region 8 gene (DGCR8), the pre- and post-natal expression of miR-148a. The results of PDE offspring in vivo and in vitro exhibited similar changes. These changes could be reversed by overexpressing LDLR, inhibiting miR-148a or GR. PDE caused hypercholesterolemia in male adult offspring rats, which was mediated via dexamethasone activated intrauterine hepatic GR, enhanced the expression of DGCR8 and miR-148a, thereby reducing the expression of LDLR, leading to impaired liver cholesterol reverse transport function, and finally causing hypercholesterolemia in adult rats.HighlightsPDE induced hypercholesterolemia in adult male offspringBMSCs hepatoid differentiated cell model applied in fetal-origin diseasesGlucocorticoids mediated DGCR8 promoter and expression

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