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Cardiovascular consequences of maternal obesity throughout the lifespan in first generation sheep


Obesity continues to be a significant global health issue and contributes to a variety of comorbidities and disease states. Importantly, obesity contributes to adverse cardiovascular health outcomes, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. Further, maternal obesity during gestation has been shown to predispose offspring to adverse phenotypic outcomes, specifically cardiovascular outcomes. Therefore, we hypothesized that diet-induced obesity during gestation would result in adverse cardiovascular phenotypes in first-generation offspring that would have functional consequences in juvenile and advanced ages. Multiparous Rambouillet/Columbia cross ewes (F0) were fed a highly palatable, pelleted diet at either 100% (CON), or 150% (OB) of National Research Council recommendations from 60 days prior to conception, until necropsy at d 135 (90%) of gestation (CON: n = 5, OB: n = 6), or through term for lambs (F1: 2.5 mo. old; CON: n = 9, OB: n = 6) and ewes (F1:9 years old; CON: n = 5, OB: n = 8). Paraffin-embedded fetal aorta section staining revealed increased collagen:elastin ratio and greater aortic wall thickness in OBF1 fetuses. Invasive auricular blood pressure recordings revealed elevated systolic blood pressure in OBF1 lambs, but no differences in diastolic pressure. In aged F1 ewes, systolic and diastolic blood pressures were reduced in OBF1 relative to CONF1. Echocardiography revealed no treatment differences in F1 lambs, but F1 ewes show tendencies for increased end systolic volume and decreased stroke volume, and markedly reduced ejection fraction. Therefore, we conclude that maternal obesity programs altered cardiovascular development that results in a hypertensive state in OBF1 lambs. Increased cardiac workload resulting from early life hypertension precedes the failure of the heart to maintain function later in life.



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