Diet induced maternal obesity alters ovarian morphology and gene expression in the adult mouse offspring

Ovaries of mouse offspring from high–fat–fed obese dams have reduced follicular population and altered gene expression, which could impact their reproductive potential.

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Ying Cheong, M.D., Khaled H. Sadek, M.B.B.S., Kimberley D. Bruce, Ph.D., Nick Macklon, M.D., Felino Ramon Cagampang, Ph.D.

Volume 102, Issue 3, Pages 899-907



To examine the effects of high-fat (HF) diet–induced maternal obesity on follicular population and gene expression in adult offspring ovaries.


Experimental mouse study.




Mice on HF diet.


Female C57BL/6J mice were fed an HF or standard chow (C) diet 6 weeks before conception, through pregnancy and lactation. Offspring were fed the C or HF diet from weaning, creating the HF/HF, HF/C, C/HF, C/C offspring groups.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Follicular counts and gene expression in adult offspring ovaries.


Prenatal exposure to maternal HF nutrition resulted in the reduction of primordial, antral, and Graafian follicle numbers in offspring ovaries (both HF/C and HF/HF). Expression levels of genes involved in apoptosis (FoXO3a), follicular growth and development (Gdf9), and circadian rhythms generation (Clock and Bmal1) were elevated in the ovaries of HF/C and HF/HF offspring, while expression of the circadian clock genes Cry1 and Per1 were lower in HF/HF ovaries.


Maternal obesity during pregnancy has long-term deleterious consequences on follicular growth and development in the adult offspring ovaries, which may impact their reproductive potential.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.