Maternal High-Fat Diet Programs Fetal Adipose Tissue Renin-Angiotensin System?

sharma-obesity-rat1OK, this is a “rat” study – but given my past interest in the renin-angiontensin system (a key system in blood regulation – we were the first to describe the presence of this system in human adipose tissue), I read this paper with great interest.

This study by Cristiane Guberman and colleagues from UCLA, published in the American Journal of Obstetric and Gynecology, looked at the offspring of rats raised on a high-fat or control diet, which continued throughout pregnancy.

Using appropriate controls, the researchers not only demonstrated higher blood pressures in the offspring of the high-fat reared rats (which were also fatter) but also showed early and persistent activation of the adipose-tissue renin-angiotensin system, an effect that was further exacerbated when the pups were also exposed to a high-fat diet.

These findings are not only important because they suggest a mechanism for why offspring of obese mothers may be more prone to developing hypertension (and other cardiometabolic risk factors) but also because they suggest that these effects may be due to epigenetic(?) “reprogramming” of renin-angiotensin system genes in adipose tissue.

Unfortunately, I no longer study this system or adipose tissue in my lab but I am sure there are plenty of colleagues out there who will jump on this interesting finding.

Fortunately, we do have drugs that effectively inhibit or block the renin-angiotensin system and it will be of interest to see if these may represent the best treatment for hypertension in offspring of obese mothers.

Obviously, preventing or treating obesity in young women before they get pregnant may be even better!

Edmonton, AB
Guberman C, Jellyman JK, Han G, Ross MG, & Desai M (2013). Maternal high-fat diet programs rat offspring hypertension and activates the adipose renin-angiotensin system. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology PMID: 23743273