Pregnancy in obese mice protects selectively against visceral adiposity and is associated with increased adipocyte estrogen signalling

Silvia M A Pedroni, Sophie Turban, Tiina Kipari, Donald R Dunbar, Kerry McInnes, Philippa T K Saunders, Nicholas M Morton, Jane E Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal obesity is linked with increased adverse pregnancy outcomes for both mother and child. The metabolic impact of excessive fat within the context of pregnancy is not fully understood. We used a mouse model of high fat (HF) feeding to induce maternal obesity to identify adipose tissue-mediated mechanisms driving metabolic dysfunction in pregnant and non-pregnant obese mice. As expected, chronic HF-feeding for 12 weeks preceding pregnancy increased peripheral (subcutaneous) and visceral (mesenteric) fat mass. However, unexpectedly at late gestation (E18.5) HF-fed mice exhibited a remarkable normalization of visceral but not peripheral adiposity, with a 53% reduction in non-pregnant visceral fat mass expressed as a proportion of body weight (P<0.001). In contrast, in control animals, pregnancy had no effect on visceral fat mass proportion. Obesity exaggerated glucose intolerance at mid-pregnancy (E14.5). However by E18.5, there were no differences, in glucose tolerance between obese and control mice. Transcriptomic analysis of visceral fat from HF-fed dams at E18.5 revealed reduced expression of genes involved in de novo lipogenesis (diacylglycerol O-acyltransferase 2--Dgat2) and inflammation (chemokine C-C motif ligand 20--Ccl2) and upregulation of estrogen receptor α (ERα) compared to HF non pregnant. Attenuation of adipose inflammation was functionally confirmed by a 45% reduction of CD11b+CD11c+ adipose tissue macrophages (expressed as a proportion of all stromal vascular fraction cells) in HF pregnant compared to HF non pregnant animals (P<0.001). An ERα selective agonist suppressed both de novo lipogenesis and expression of lipogenic genes in adipocytes in vitro. These data show that, in a HF model of maternal obesity, late gestation is associated with amelioration of visceral fat hypertrophy, inflammation and glucose intolerance, and suggest that these effects are mediated in part by elevated visceral adipocyte ERα signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e94680
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Adipocytes/cytology
  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Estrogens/metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose/metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat/metabolism
  • Macrophages/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal
  • Receptors, Estrogen/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Time Factors
  • Transcriptome


Dive into the research topics of 'Pregnancy in obese mice protects selectively against visceral adiposity and is associated with increased adipocyte estrogen signalling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this