Laboring women with elevated body mass index (BMI) have an increased risk of inefficient uterine labor contractions, and despite the significance of mitochondria in the production of energy to drive uterine contractions, mitochondrial function in the myometrium with reference to the BMI has not been explored. The objective of this study was to determine whether obesity prior to and during gestation affects oxidative capacity and/or morphology of mitochondria in the myometrium at term in an animal model. Rat dams were fed for 47 days prior to impregnation and during gestation with either (1) a regular chow diet, (2) a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet, or (3) a high-fat low-carbohydrate diet (n = 10 in each group). On day 20 of gestation, corresponding to term pregnancy, total hysterectomy was performed with subsequent examination of the function and morphology of myometrial mitochondria. Body composition was regularly assessed by quantitative magnetic resonance imaging, and blood sampling was done prior to diet assignment, impregnation, and hysterectomy. Dams on the high-fat low-carbohydrate diet achieved higher fat percentage compared to rats on the regular chow diet (p < 0.05). Maximal oxygen consumption, phosphate/oxygen ratio, or the amount of mitochondria per gram of myometrium did not differ between the three feeding groups. Electron microscopic examinations did not reveal any morphological differences in mitochondria between groups; however, a previously undescribed subsarcolemmal localization of the mitochondria in the myocyte was identified. We did not find evidence of altered myometrial mitochondrial function or morphology in this animal model of obesity prior to and during pregnancy.
Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology, 2014, Vol 467, Issue 7, p. 1539-1549