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Fostering in mice induces cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction in adulthood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Phillippa A. Matthews, Anne-Maj Samuelsson, Paul Seed, Joaquim Pombo, Jude A. Oben, Lucilla Poston, Paul D. Taylor

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3969 - 3981
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011

King's Authors


Cross-fostering is widely used in developmental programming studies to determine the relative contribution of the in utero and suckling periods in establishing the adult offspring phenotype in response to an environmental challenge. We have investigated whether the process of fostering per se influences cardiovascular and metabolic function in adult offspring of C57BL/6J mice in comparison with animals suckled by their biological dams. Cross-fostered (CF) mice demonstrated juvenile onset hyperphagia and significantly higher body weight (from weaning to 12 weeks: male control (CON) vs. CF: P <0.01, female CON vs. CF: P <0.001; RM ANOVA) accompanied by increased abdominal adiposity in males only (white adipose tissue mass (mg): CON 280.5 +/- 13.4 [mean +/- SEM] (n = 7) vs. CF, 549.8 +/- 99.3 (n = 8), P <0.01). Both male and female CF mice demonstrated significantly enhanced glucose tolerance. A marked increase in systolic blood pressure (SBP) was observed in male CF mice (SBP (mmHg), day: CON 100.5 +/- 1.4 (n = 6) vs. CF 114.3 +/- 0.7 (n = 6), P <0.001; night: CON 108.0 +/- 2.0 (n = 6) vs. CF 123.2 +/- 1.1 (n = 6), P <0.001). Endothelium-dependent relaxation was enhanced in male CFmice, and renal noradrenaline was increased in female CF mice. Concentration of serum triglycerides, cholesterol, insulin and leptin were increased in CF vs. CON. The process of cross-fostering profoundly affects cardiovascular and metabolic phenotype in mice. The findings have implications for the inclusion of appropriate controls in the design of future studies and in the interpretation of previous cross-fostering studies in mice.

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