A range of epidemiological and experimental studies have indicated that suboptimal nutrition at different stages of gestation is associated with an increased prevalence of adult hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. The timing of prenatal nutrient restriction is important in determining postnatal outcomes—including obesity. The present study, aimed to determine the extent to which fetal adiposity and expression of the key thermogenic protein, uncoupling protein (UCP)1, are altered by restriction of maternal nutrient intake imposed during four different periods, starting from before conception. Maternal nutrient intake was restricted from 60 days before until 8 days after mating (periconceptional nutrient restriction; R-C), from 60 days before mating and throughout gestation (R-R), from 8 days gestation until term (C-R), or from 115 days gestation until term. Fetal perirenal adipose tissue (PAT) was sampled near to term at ∼143 days. UCP1 mRNA, but not protein, abundance in PAT was increased in fetuses in the R-R group (C‐C 63 ± 18; R-C 83 ± 43; C-R 103 ± 38; R-R 167 ± 50 arbitrary units (P < 0.05)). In contrast, the abundance of UCP1 mRNA, but not protein, in fetal PAT was decreased when maternal nutrition was restricted from 115 days gestation. The major effect of maternal nutrient restriction on adipose tissue deposition occurred in the C-R group, in which the proportion of fetal fat was doubled, whereas maternal nutrient restriction from 115 days gestation reduced fetal fat deposition. In conclusion, there are differential effects of maternal and therefore fetal nutrient restriction on UCP1 mRNA expression and fetal fat mass and these effects are dependent on the timing and duration of nutrient restriction.
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