Fructose consumption during pregnancy and lactation induces fatty liver and glucose intolerance in rats

Mi Zou, Emily J. Arentson, Dorothy Teegarden, Stephanie L. Koser, Laurie Onyskow, Shawn S. Donkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Nutritional insults during pregnancy and lactation are health risks for mother and offspring. Both fructose (FR) and low-protein (LP) diets are linked to hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance in nonpregnant animals. We hypothesized that dietary FR or LP intake during pregnancy may exacerbate the already compromised glucose homeostasis to induce gestational diabetes and fatty liver. Therefore, we investigated and compared the effects of LP or FR intake on hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance in unmated controls (CTs) and pregnant and lactating rats. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a CT, or a 63% FR, or an 8% LP diet. Glucose tolerance test at day 17 of the study revealed greater (P < .05) blood glucose at 10 (75.6 mg/dL vs 64.0 ± 4.8 mg/dL) minutes and 20 (72.4 mg/dL vs 58.6 ± 4.0 mg/dL) minutes after glucose dose and greater area under the curve (4302.3 mgbullet operatordL-1{bullet operator}min-1 vs 3763.4 ± 263.6 mg{bullet operator}dL-1{bullet operator}min-1) for FR-fed dams compared with CT-fed dams. The rats were euthanized at 21 days postpartum. Both the FR- and LP-fed dams had enlarged (P < .05) livers (9.3%, 7.1% body weight vs 4.8% ± 0.2% body weight) and elevated (P < .05) liver triacylglycerol (216.0, 130.0 mg/g vs 19.9 ± 12.6 mg/g liver weight) compared with CT-fed dams. Fructose induced fatty liver and glucose intolerance in pregnant and lactating rats, but not unmated CT rats. The data demonstrate a unique physiological status response to diet resulting in the development of gestational diabetes coupled with hepatic steatosis in FR-fed dams, which is more severe than an LP diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-598
Number of pages11
JournalNutrition Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Fatty liver
  • Fructose
  • Low protein
  • Pregnancy
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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