1 Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark2 Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark3 University of Copenhagen4 University of Jiroft5 Technical University of Denmark6 Copenhagen University Hospital
We previously reported that undernutrition in late fetal life reduced whole-body insulin sensitivity in adult sheep, irrespective of dietary exposure in early postnatal life. Skeletal muscle may play an important role in control of insulin action. We therefore studied a range of putative key muscle determinants of insulin signalling in two types of skeletal muscles (longissimus dorsi (LD) and biceps femoris (BF)) and in the cardiac muscle (ventriculus sinister cordis (VSC)) of sheep from the same experiment. Twin-bearing ewes were fed either 100% (NORM) or 50% (LOW) of their energy and protein requirements during the last trimester of gestation. From day-3 postpartum to 6-months of age (around puberty), twin offspring received a high-carbohydrate-high-fat (HCHF) or a moderate-conventional (CONV) diet, whereafter all males were slaughtered. Females were subsequently raised on a moderate diet and slaughtered at 2-years of age (young adults). The only long-term consequences of fetal undernutrition observed in adult offspring were lower expressions of the insulin responsive glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) protein and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1a (PGC1α) mRNA in BF, but increased PGC1a expression in VSC. Interestingly, the HCHF diet in early postnatal life was associated with somewhat paradoxically increased expressions in LD of a range of genes (but not proteins) related to glucose uptake, insulin signalling and fatty acid oxidation. Except for fatty acid oxidation genes, these changes persisted into adulthood. No persistent expression changes were observed in BF and VSC. The HCHF diet increased phospholipid ratios of n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in all muscles, even in adults fed identical diets for 1 1/2 years. In conclusion, early postnatal, but not late gestation, nutrition had long-term consequences for a number of determinants of insulin action and metabolism in LD. Tissues other than muscle may account for reduced whole body insulin sensitivity in adult LOW sheep.