Maternal obesity induces gut inflammation and impairs gut epithelial barrier function in nonobese diabetic mice

Yansong Xue, Hui Wang, Min Du, Mei Jun Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impairment of gut epithelial barrier function is a key predisposing factor for inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes (T1D) and related autoimmune diseases. We hypothesized that maternal obesity induces gut inflammation and impairs epithelial barrier function in the offspring of nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice. Four-week-old female NOD/ShiLtJ mice were fed with a control diet (CON; 10% energy from fat) or a high-fat diet (HFD; 60% energy from fat) for 8 weeks to induce obesity and then mated. During pregnancy and lactation, mice were maintained in their respective diets. After weaning, all offspring were fed the CON diet. At 16 weeks of age, female offspring were subjected to in vivo intestinal permeability test, and then ileum was sampled for biochemical analyses. Inflammasome mediators, activated caspase-1 and mature forms of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 were enhanced in offspring of obese mothers, which was associated with elevated serum tumor necrosis factor α level and inflammatory mediators. Consistently, abundance of oxidative stress markers including catalase, peroxiredoxin-4 and superoxide dismutase 1 was heightened in offspring ileum (P<.05). Furthermore, offspring from obese mothers had a higher intestinal permeability. Morphologically, maternal obesity reduced villi/crypt ratio in the ileum of offspring gut. In conclusion, maternal obesity induced inflammation and impaired gut barrier function in offspring of NOD mice. The enhanced gut permeability in HFD offspring might predispose them to the development of T1D and other gut permeability-associated diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-764
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Inflammation
  • Intestine
  • Maternal obesity
  • NOD
  • Offspring
  • Oxidative stress
  • Permeability
  • Tight junction proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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