Identification of early transcriptome-based biomarkers related to lipid metabolism in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of rats nutritionally programmed for improved metabolic health



Moderate maternal calorie restriction during lactation protects rat offspring against obesity development in adulthood, due to an improved ability to handle and store excess dietary fuel. We used this model to identify early transcriptome-based biomarkers of metabolic health using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), an easily accessible surrogate tissue, by focusing on molecular markers of lipid handling. Male and female offspring of control and 20 % calorierestricted lactating dams (CR) were studied. At weaning, a set of pups was killed, and PBMCs were isolated for whole-genome microarray analysis. The remaining pups were killed at 6 months of age. CR gave lower body weight, food intake and fat accumulation, and improved levels of insulin and leptin throughout life, particularly in females. Microarray analysis of weaned rat PBMCs identified 278 genes significantly differentially expressed between control and CR. Among lipid metabolism-related genes, expression of Cpt1a, Lipe and Star was increased and Fasn, Lrp1 and Rxrb decreased in CR versus control, with changes fully confirmed by qPCR. Among them, Cpt1a, Fasn and Star emerged as particularly interesting. Transcript levels of Cpt1a in PBMCs correlated with their levels in WAT and liver at both ages examined; Fasn expression levels in PBMCs at an early age correlated with their expression levels in WAT; and early changes in Star expression levels in PBMCs correlated with their expression levels in liver and were sustained in adulthood. These findings reveal the possibility of using transcript levels of lipid metabolism-related genes in PBMCs as early biomarkers of metabolic health status.
Date made available15 Sept 2018
PublisherWageningen University


  • Rattus norvegicus

Accession numbers

  • GSE119955
  • PRJNA490821

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