Influence of birth weight and gender on lipid status and adipose tissue gene expression in lambs

Jacqueline M Wallace, John S Milne, Raymond P Aitken, Clare L Adam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a risk factor for obesity, particularly when offspring are born into an unrestricted nutritional environment. In this study, we investigated the impact of IUGR and gender on circulating lipids and on expression of adipogenic, lipogenic and adipokine genes in perirenal adipose tissue. Singleton lambs born to overnourished adolescent dams were normal birth weight (N) or IUGR (32% lower birth weight due to placental insufficiency). IUGR lambs exhibited increased fractional growth rates but remained smaller than N lambs at necropsy (d77). At 48 days, fasting plasma triglycerides, non-esterified fatty acids and glycerol were elevated predominantly in IUGR males. Body fat content was independent of prenatal growth but higher in females than in males. In perirenal fat, relative to male lambs, females had larger adipocytes; higher lipoprotein lipase, fatty acid synthase and leptin and lower IGF1, IGF2, IGF1R, IGF2R and hormone-sensitive lipase mRNA expression levels, and all were independent of prenatal growth category; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PDH) mRNA expression were not affected by IUGR or gender. Adiposity indices were inversely related to G3PDH mRNA expression, and for the population as a whole the expression of IGF system genes in perirenal fat was negatively correlated with plasma leptin, fat mass and adipocyte size, and positively correlated with circulating IGF1 levels. Higher plasma lipid levels in IUGR males may predict later adverse metabolic health and obesity, but in early postnatal life gender has the dominant influence on adipose tissue gene expression, reflecting the already established sexual dimorphism in body composition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Molecular Endocrinology
Issue number1
Early online date13 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


  • IUGR
  • gender
  • adipose tissue
  • body composition
  • lipids
  • gene expression
  • sheep


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