High-fructose diet in pregnancy leads to fetal programming of hypertension, insulin resistance, and obesity in adult offspring

Published:April 06, 2016DOI:


      Consumption of fructose-rich diets in the United States is on the rise and thought to be associated with obesity and cardiometabolic diseases.


      We sought to determine the effects of antenatal exposure to high-fructose diet on offspring’s development of metabolic syndrome–like phenotype and other cardiovascular disease risk factors later in life.

      Study Design

      Pregnant C57BL/6J dams were randomly allocated to fructose solution (10% wt/vol, n = 10) or water (n = 10) as the only drinking fluid from day 1 of pregnancy until delivery. After weaning, pups were started on regular chow, and evaluated at 1 year of life. We measured percent visceral adipose tissue and liver fat infiltrates using computed tomography, and blood pressure using CODA nonivasive monitor. Intraperitoneal glucose tolerance testing with corresponding insulin concentrations were obtained. Serum concentrations of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, total cholesterol, leptin, and adiponectin were measured in duplicate using standardized assays. Fasting homeostatic model assessment was also calculated to assess insulin resistance. P values <.05 were considered statistically significant.


      Maternal weight, pup number, and average weight at birth were similar between the 2 groups. Male and female fructose group offspring had higher peak glucose and area under the intraperitoneal glucose tolerance testing curve compared with control, and higher mean arterial pressure compared to control. Female fructose group offspring were heavier and had higher percent visceral adipose tissue, liver fat infiltrates, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance scores, insulin area under the intraperitoneal glucose tolerance testing curve, and serum concentrations of leptin, and lower concentrations of adiponectin compared to female control offspring. No significant differences in these parameters were noted in male offspring. Serum concentrations of triglycerides or total cholesterol were not different between the 2 groups for either gender.


      Maternal intake of high fructose leads to fetal programming of adult obesity, hypertension, and metabolic dysfunction, all risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This fetal programming is more pronounced in female offspring. Limiting intake of high fructose–enriched diets in pregnancy may have significant impact on long-term health.

      Key words

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