Maternal fat feeding augments offspring Nephron endowment in mice

Stacey Hokke, Victor G. Puelles, James A. Armitage, Karen Fong, John F. Bertram, Luise A. Cullen-McEwen

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing consumption of a high fat 'Western' diet has led to a growing number of pregnancies complicated by maternal obesity. Maternal overnutrition and obesity have health implications for offspring, yet little is known about their effects on offspring kidney development and renal function. Female C57Bl6 mice were fed a high fat diet (HFD, 21% fat) or matched normal fat diet (NFD, 6% fat) for 6 weeks prior to pregnancy and throughout gestation and lactation. HFD dams were overweight and glucose intolerant prior to mating but not in late gestation. Offspring of NFD and HFD dams had similar body weights at embryonic day (E) 15.5, E18.5 and at postnatal day (PN)21. HFD offspring had normal ureteric tree development and nephron number at E15.5. However, using unbiased stereology, kidneys of HFD offspring were found to have 20-25% more nephrons than offspring of NFD dams at E18.5 and PN21. Offspring of HFD dams with body weight and glucose profiles similar to NFD dams prior to pregnancy also had an elevated nephron endowment. At 9 months of age, adult offspring of HFD dams displayed mild fasting hyperglycaemia but similar body weights to NFD offspring. Renal function and morphology, measured by transcutaneous clearance of FITC-sinistrin and stereology respectively, were normal. This study demonstrates that maternal fat feeding augments offspring nephron endowment with no long-Term consequences for offspring renal health. Future studies assessing the effects of a chronic stressor on adult mice with augmented nephron number are warranted, as are studies investigating the molecular mechanisms that result in high nephron endowment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0161578
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2016


  • nephrons
  • kidneys
  • fats
  • body weight
  • diet
  • pregnancy
  • obesity
  • renal system

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