Skip to main content Accessibility help

Maternal high-fat diet consumption impairs exercise performance in offspring

  • Isabel Walter (a1) and Susanne Klaus (a1)


The aim of the present study was to scrutinise the influence of maternal high-fat diet (mHFD) consumption during gestation and lactation on exercise performance and energy metabolism in male mouse offspring. Female C3H/HeJ mice were fed either a semi-synthetic high-fat diet (HFD; 40 % energy from fat) or a low-fat diet (LFD; 10 % energy from fat) throughout gestation and lactation. After weaning, male offspring of both groups received the LFD. At the age of 7·5 weeks half of the maternal LFD (n 20) and the mHFD (n 21) groups were given access to a running wheel for 28 d as a voluntary exercise training opportunity. We show that mHFD consumption led to a significantly reduced exercise performance (P < 0·05) and training efficiency (P < 0·05) in male offspring. There were no effects of maternal diet on offspring body weight. Lipid and glucose metabolism was disturbed in mHFD offspring, with altered regulation of cluster of differentiation 36 (CD36) (P < 0·001), fatty acid synthase (P < 0·05) and GLUT1 (P < 0·05) gene expression in skeletal muscle. In conclusion, maternal consumption of a HFD is linked to decreased exercise performance and training efficiency in the offspring. We speculate that this may be due to insufficient muscle energy supply during prolonged exercise training. Further, this compromised exercise performance might increase the risk of obesity development in adult life.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Maternal high-fat diet consumption impairs exercise performance in offspring
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Maternal high-fat diet consumption impairs exercise performance in offspring
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Maternal high-fat diet consumption impairs exercise performance in offspring
      Available formats


The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license .

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Dr S. Klaus, email


Hide All
1. Hales, CN & Barker, DJP (2001) The thrifty phenotype hypothesis. Br Med Bull 60, 520.
2. Symonds, ME, Sebert, SP, Hyatt, MA, et al. (2009) Nutritional programming of the metabolic syndrome. Nat Rev Endocrinol 5, 604610.
3. Rajia, S, Chen, H & Morris, MJ (2013) Voluntary post weaning exercise restores metabolic homeostasis in offspring of obese rats. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 23, 574581.
4. Vickers, MH, Breier, BH, Cutfield, WS, et al. (2000) Fetal origins of hyperphagia, obesity, and hypertension and postnatal amplification by hypercaloric nutrition. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 279, E83E87.
5. Kruse, M, Seki, Y, Vuguin, PM, et al. (2013) High-fat intake during pregnancy and lactation exacerbates high-fat diet-induced complications in male offspring in mice. Endocrinology 154, 35653576.
6. White, R, Bierinx, A-S, Gnocchi, V, et al. (2010) Dynamics of muscle fibre growth during postnatal mouse development. BMC Dev Biol 10, 21.
7. Ontell, M & Kozeka, K (1984) Organogenesis of the mouse extensor digitorum longus muscle: a quantitative study. Am J Anat 171, 149161.
8. Du, M, Yan, X, Tong, JF, et al. (2010) Maternal obesity, inflammation, and fetal skeletal muscle development. Biol Reprod 82, 412.
9. Stannard, SR & Johnson, NA (2004) Insulin resistance and elevated triglyceride in muscle: more important for survival than ‘thrifty’ genes? J Physiol 554, 595607.
10. Bayol, S, Macharia, R, Farrington, S, et al. (2009) Evidence that a maternal “junk food” diet during pregnancy and lactation can reduce muscle force in offspring. Eur J Nutr 48, 6265.
11. Bayol, SA, Simbi, BH & Stickland, NC (2005) A maternal cafeteria diet during gestation and lactation promotes adiposity and impairs skeletal muscle development and metabolism in rat offspring at weaning. J Physiol 567, 951961.
12. Shaw, CS, Clark, J & Wagenmakers, AJ (2010) The effect of exercise and nutrition on intramuscular fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Annu Rev Nutr 30, 1334.
13. Bottinelli, R & Reggiani, C (2000) Human skeletal muscle fibres: molecular and functional diversity. Prog Biophys Mol Biol 73, 195262.
14. Hoevenaars, FP, van Schothorst, EM, Horakova, O, et al. (2012) BIOCLAIMS standard diet (BIOsd): a reference diet for nutritional physiology. Genes Nutr 7, 399404.
15. Klaus, S, Rudolph, B, Dohrmann, C, et al. (2005) Expression of uncoupling protein 1 in skeletal muscle decreases muscle energy efficiency and affects thermoregulation and substrate oxidation. Physiol Genomics 21, 193200.
16. Tinsley, FC, Taicher, GZ & Heiman, ML (2004) Evaluation of a quantitative magnetic resonance method for mouse whole body composition analysis. Obes Res 12, 150160.
17. Moraska, A, Deak, T, Spencer, RL, et al. (2000) Treadmill running produces both positive and negative physiological adaptations in Sprague–Dawley rats. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 279, R1321R1329.
18. Ortmann, S, Kampe, J, Gossel, M, et al. (2004) The novel antiobesic HMR1426 reduces food intake without affecting energy expenditure in rats. Obes Res 12, 12901297.
19. Petzke, KJ, Riese, C & Klaus, S (2007) Short-term, increasing dietary protein and fat moderately affect energy expenditure, substrate oxidation and uncoupling protein gene expression in rats. J Nutr Biochem 18, 400407.
20. Chomczynski, P & Sacchi, N (1987) Single-step method of RNA isolation by acid guanidinium thiocyanate–phenol–chloroform extraction. Anal Biochem 162, 156159.
21. Weber, K, Bolander, ME & Sarkar, G (1998) PIG-B: a homemade monophasic cocktail for the extraction of RNA. Mol Biotechnol 9, 7377.
22. Pfaffl, MW (2001) A new mathematical model for relative quantification in real-time RT-PCR. Nucleic Acids Res 29, e45.
23. Seebacher, F, Guderley, H, Elsey, RM, et al. (2003) Seasonal acclimatisation of muscle metabolic enzymes in a reptile (Alligator mississippiensis). J Exp Biol 206, 11931200.
24. Noatsch, A, Petzke, KJ, Millrose, MK, et al. (2011) Body weight and energy homeostasis was not affected in C57BL/6 mice fed high whey protein or leucine-supplemented low-fat diets. Eur J Nutr 50, 479488.
25. Grundy, SM, Barlow, CE, Farrell, SW, et al. (2012) Cardiorespiratory fitness and metabolic risk. Am J Cardiol 109, 988993.
26. Church, T (2009) The low-fitness phenotype as a risk factor: more than just being sedentary? Obesity (Silver Spring) 17, Suppl. 3, S39S42.
27. Timmons, JA (2011) Variability in training-induced skeletal muscle adaptation. J Appl Physiol 110, 846853.
28. Timmons, JA, Knudsen, S, Rankinen, T, et al. (2010) Using molecular classification to predict gains in maximal aerobic capacity following endurance exercise training in humans. J Appl Physiol 108, 14871496.
29. Booth, FW & Laye, MJ (2010) The future: genes, physical activity and health. Acta Physiol (Oxf) 199, 549556.
30. James, RS, Walter, I & Seebacher, F (2011) Variation in expression of calcium-handling proteins is associated with inter-individual differences in mechanical performance of rat (Rattus norvegicus) skeletal muscle. J Exp Biol 214, 35423548.
31. Sahlin, K, Tonkonogi, M & Soderlund, K (1998) Energy supply and muscle fatigue in humans. Acta Physiol Scand 162, 261266.
32. Hoppeler, H (1986) Exercise-induced ultrastructural-changes in skeletal-muscle. Int J Sports Med 7, 187204.
33. Hughes, VA, Fiatarone, MA, Fielding, RA, et al. (1993) Exercise increases muscle GLUT-4 levels and insulin action in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. Am J Physiol 264, E855E862.
34. Henriksen, EJ (2002) Invited review: effects of acute exercise and exercise training on insulin resistance. J Appl Physiol 93, 788796.
35. Ashino, NG, Saito, KN, Souza, FD, et al. (2012) Maternal high-fat feeding through pregnancy and lactation predisposes mouse offspring to molecular insulin resistance and fatty liver. J Nutr Biochem 23, 341348.
36. Franco, JG, Fernandes, TP, Rocha, CP, et al. (2012) Maternal high-fat diet induces obesity and adrenal and thyroid dysfunction in male rat offspring at weaning. J Physiol 590, 55035518.
37. Strakovsky, RS, Zhang, X, Zhou, D, et al. (2011) Gestational high fat diet programs hepatic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase gene expression and histone modification in neonatal offspring rats. J Physiol 589, 27072717.
38. McCurdy, CE, Bishop, JM, Williams, SM, et al. (2009) Maternal high-fat diet triggers lipotoxicity in the fetal livers of nonhuman primates. J Clin Invest 119, 323335.
39. Giguère, V (2008) Transcriptional control of energy homeostasis by the estrogen-related receptors. Endocr Rev 29, 677696.
40. Narkar, VA, Fan, W, Downes, M, et al. (2011) Exercise and PGC-1α-independent synchronization of type I muscle metabolism and vasculature by ERRγ. Cell Metab 13, 283293.
41. Rangwala, SM, Wang, XM, Calvo, JA, et al. (2010) Estrogen-related receptor γ is a key regulator of muscle mitochondrial activity and oxidative capacity. J Biol Chem 285, 2261922629.
42. Dufour, CR, Wilson, BJ, Huss, JM, et al. (2007) Genome-wide orchestration of cardiac functions by the orphan nuclear receptors ERRα and γ. Cell Metab 5, 345356.
43. Liu, Y-F, Chen, H-i, Wu, C-L, et al. (2009) Differential effects of treadmill running and wheel running on spatial or aversive learning and memory: roles of amygdalar brain-derived neurotrophic factor and synaptotagmin I. J Physiol 587, 32213231.
44. Cook, MD, Martin, SA, Williams, C, et al. (2013) Forced treadmill exercise training exacerbates inflammation and causes mortality while voluntary wheel training is protective in a mouse model of colitis. Brain Behav Immun 33, 4656.


Maternal high-fat diet consumption impairs exercise performance in offspring

  • Isabel Walter (a1) and Susanne Klaus (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed