In rodent models and in humans the impact of gestational diets on the offspring's phenotype was shown experimentally and epidemiologically. The underlying programming of fetal development was shown to be associated with an increased risk of degenerative diseases in adulthood, including the metabolic syndrome. There are clues that diet-dependent modifications of the metabolism during fetal life can persist until adulthood. This leads to the hypothesis that the offspring's transcriptomes show short-term and long-term changes depending on the maternal diet. To this end pregnant German landrace gilts were fed either a high protein diet (HP, 30% CP) or an adequate protein diet (AP, 12% CP) throughout pregnancy. Hepatic transcriptome profiles of the offspring were analyzed at prenatal (94 dpc) and postnatal stages (1, 28, 188 dpn). Depending on the gestational dietary exposure, mRNA expression levels of genes related to energy metabolism, N-metabolism, growth factor signaling pathways, lipid metabolism, nucleic acid metabolism and stress/immune response were affected either in a short-term or in a long-term manner. Gene expression profiles at fetal stage 94 dpc were almost unchanged between the diets. The gestational HP diet affected the hepatic expression profiles at prenatal and postnatal stages. The effects encompassed a modulation of the genome in terms of an altered responsiveness of energy and nutrient sensing pathways. Differential expression of genes related to energy production and nutrient utilization contribute to the maintenance of development and growth performance within physiological norms, however the modulation of these pathways may be accompanied by a predisposition for metabolic disturbances up to adult stages
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