Maternal low-protein (MLP) diet can lead to hepatic steatosis, which only develops with ageing. It is still unclear whether the young offspring show any signs of past exposure to prenatal adverse conditions. We hypothesized that early nutritional insult would first affect the dynamic responsiveness to nutritional challenges rather than the static state. We analyzed the transcriptome and metabolome profiles of the hepatic response to fasting/refeeding in young male mice offspring to identify changes induced by early gestational MLP diet. Restricted MLP exposure strictly to early gestation was achieved by the embryo transfer method. As a result, the fasting-induced upregulation of genes related to long-chain fatty acid metabolism and of stress response genes related to protein folding were significantly diminished in MLP pups. Lipid profiling after fasting showed that the hepatic signature of triacylglycerols was shifted to longer acyl-chains and higher saturation by the MLP diet. Bioinformatic analyses suggested that these phenomenological changes may be partially linked to the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor α (PPARα) pathway. Taken together, early gestational MLP diet affected the hepatic dynamic response to nutritional stress in seemingly healthy young offspring, accompanied with partial deterioration of PPARα action.
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