Perinatal maternal high-fat consumption is known to increase the obesity and type 2 diabetes susceptibility and to impair exercise performance in the offspring. We hypothesize that epigenetic modifications in the skeletal muscle are partly responsible for this phenotype. To detect skeletal muscle genes affected by maternal nutrition, male offspring of low-fat (LF) and high-fat (HF) diet fed dams (BL6 mice) received LF diet upon weaning and were sacrificed at 6 or 25 weeks of age. Gene expression of Musculus quadriceps was investigated by microarray analysis revealing an up-regulation of the nuclear receptor Nr4a1 by maternal HF feeding. This was accompanied by promoter hypomethylation of CpG-1408 which correlated with increased Nr4a1 gene expression at both ages. Offspring voluntary exercise training (by supplying running wheels from 7 to 25 weeks of age) normalized Nr4a1 methylation and gene expression respectively, and ameliorated the negative effects of maternal HF feeding on insulin sensitivity. Overall, Nr4a1 gene expression in skeletal muscle correlated with higher insulin levels during an oral glucose tolerance test and could, therefore, be involved in programming type 2 diabetes susceptibility in offspring exposed to perinatal high fat diet.
Skeletal muscle Nr4a1 hypomethylation and gene induction reduce insulin sensitivity in sedentary maternal high-fat offspring