Animal models of in utero exposure to a high fat diet: A review

Lyda Williams, Yoshinori Seki, Patricia M. Vuguin, Maureen J. Charron

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


The incidence of metabolic disease, including type 2 diabetes and obesity, has increased to epidemic levels in recent years. A growing body of evidence suggests that the intrauterine environment plays a key role in the development of metabolic disease in offspring. Among other perturbations in early life, alteration in the provision of nutrients has profound and lasting effects on the long term health and well being of offspring. Rodent and non-human primate models provide a means to understand the underlying mechanisms of this programming effect. These different models demonstrate converging effects of a maternal high fat diet on insulin and glucose metabolism, energy balance, cardiovascular function and adiposity in offspring. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the early life environment can result in epigenetic changes that set the stage for alterations in key pathways of metabolism that lead to type 2 diabetes or obesity. Identifying and understanding the causal factors responsible for this metabolic dysregulation is vital to curtailing these epidemics. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Modulation of Adipose Tissue in Health and Disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-519
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Diabetes
  • High fat diet
  • In utero programming
  • Metabolic disease
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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