It is now broadly accepted that the nutritional environment in early life is a key factor in susceptibility to metabolic diseases. In this study, we evaluated the effects of maternal chromium restriction in vivo on the modulation of lipid metabolism and the mechanisms involved in this process. Sixteen pregnant C57BL mice were randomly divided into two dietary treatments: a control (C) diet group and a low chromium (L) diet group. The diet treatment was maintained through gestation and lactation period. After weaning, some of the pups continued with either the control diet or low chromium diet (CC or LL), whereas other pups switched to another diet (CL or LC). At 32 weeks of age, serum lipid metabolism, proinflammatory indexes, oxidative stress and anti-oxidant markers, and DNA methylation status in adipose tissue were measured. The results indicated that the maternal low chromium diet increased body weight, fat pad weight, serum triglyceride (TG), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), malondialdehyde (MDA), and oxidized glutathione (GSSG). There was a decrease in serum reduced/oxidized glutathione (GSH/GSSG) ratio at 32 weeks of age in female offspring. From adipose tissue, we identified 1214 individual hypomethylated CpG sites and 411 individual hypermethylated CpG sites in the LC group when compared to the CC group. Pathway analysis of the differential methylation genes revealed a significant increase in hypomethylated genes in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway in the LC group. Our study highlights the importance of the MAPK signaling pathway in epigenetic changes involved in the lipid metabolism of the offspring from chromium-restricted dams.
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