High consumption of saturated fats links to the development of hypertension. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a nutrient-sensing signal, is involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension. We examined whether early intervention with a direct AMPK activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide riboside (AICAR) during pregnancy or lactation can protect adult male offspring against hypertension programmed by high saturated fat consumption via regulation of nutrient sensing signals, nitric oxide (NO) pathway, and oxidative stress. Pregnant Sprague–Dawley rats received regular chow or high saturated fat diet (HFD) throughout pregnancy and lactation. AICAR treatment was introduced by intraperitoneal injection at 50 mg/kg twice a day for 3 weeks throughout the pregnancy period (AICAR/P) or lactation period (AICAR/L). Male offspring (n = 7–8/group) were assigned to five groups: control, HFD, AICAR/P, HFD + AICAR/L, and HFD + AICAR/P. Male offspring were killed at 16 weeks of age. HFD caused hypertension and obesity in male adult offspring, which could be prevented by AICAR therapy used either during pregnancy or lactation. As a result, we demonstrated that HFD downregulated AMPK/SIRT1/PGC-1α pathway in offspring kidneys. In contrast, AICAR therapy in pregnancy and, to a greater extent, in lactation activated AMPK signaling pathway. The beneficial effects of AICAR therapy in pregnancy is related to restoration of NO pathway. While AICAR uses in pregnancy and lactation both diminished oxidative stress induced by HFD. Our results highlighted that pharmacological AMPK activation might be a promising strategy to prevent hypertension programmed by excessive consumption of high-fat food.
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