In rats gestational iron deficiency does not change body fat or hepatic mitochondria in the aged offspring

W. D. Rees*, S. M. Hay, H. E. Hayes, C. Birgovan, H. J. McArdle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Mitochondrial dysfunction and resulting changes in adiposity have been observed in the offspring of animals fed a high fat (HF) diet. As iron is an important component of the mitochondria, we have studied the offspring of female rats fed complete (Con) or iron-deficient (FeD) rations for the duration of gestation to test for similar effects. The FeD offspring were similar to 12% smaller at weaning and remained so because of a persistent reduction in lean tissue mass. The offspring were fed a complete (stock) diet until 52 weeks of age after which some animals from each litter were fed a HF diet for a further 12 weeks. The HF diet increased body fat when compared with animals fed the stock diet, however, prenatal iron deficiency did not change the ratio of fat:lean in either the stock or HF diet groups. The HF diet caused triglyceride to accumulate in the liver, however, there was no effect of prenatal iron deficiency. The activity of the mitochondrial electron transport complexes was similar in all groups including those challenged with a HF diet. HF feeding increased the number of copies of mitochondrial DNA and the prevalence of the D-loop mutation, however, neither parameter was affected by prenatal iron deficiency. This study shows that the effects of prenatal iron deficiency differ from other models in that there is no persistent effect on hepatic mitochondria in aged animals exposed to an increased metabolic load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Issue number2
Early online date5 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: The authors wish to express their thanks to staff from Bioresources Unit for animal care.

Financial Support: This work was funded as a part of the Scottish Government Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) Strategic Research Program.

Ethical Standards: All experimental procedures were approved by the ethical review committee of the Rowett Research Institute and conducted in accordance with the UK Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986.


  • high fat diet
  • iron-deficiency
  • liver
  • pregnancy


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