Maternal high-fat diet and obesity impact palatable food intake and dopamine signaling in nonhuman primate offspring

Heidi M. Rivera, Paul Kievit, Melissa A. Kirigiti, Leigh Ann Bauman, Karalee Baquero, Peter Blundell, Tyler A. Dean, Jeanette C. Valleau, Diana L. Takahashi, Tim Frazee, Luke Douville, Jordan Majer, M. Susan Smith, Kevin L. Grove, Elinor L. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Objective To utilize a nonhuman primate model to examine the impact of maternal high-fat diet (HFD) consumption and pre-pregnancy obesity on offspring intake of palatable food and to examine whether maternal HFD consumption impaired development of the dopamine system, critical for the regulation of hedonic feeding. Methods The impact of exposure to maternal HFD and obesity on offspring consumption of diets of varying composition was assessed after weaning. The influence of maternal HFD consumption on the development of the prefrontal cortex-dopaminergic system at 13 months of age was also examined. Results During a preference test, offspring exposed to maternal HFD consumption and obesity displayed increased intake of food high in fat and sugar content relative to offspring from lean control mothers. Maternal HFD consumption suppressed offspring dopamine signaling (as assessed by immunohistochemistry) relative to control offspring. Specifically, there was decreased abundance of dopamine fibers and of dopamine receptor 1 and 2 proteins. Conclusions This study reveals that offspring exposed to both maternal HFD consumption and maternal obesity during early development are at increased risk for obesity due to overconsumption of palatable energy-dense food, a behavior that may be related to reduced central dopamine signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2157-2164
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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