Consumption of a Western-style diet during pregnancy impairs offspring islet vascularization in a Japanese macaque model

Lynley D. Pound, Sarah M. Comstock, Kevin L. Grove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Children exposed to a maternal Western-style diet in utero have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Understanding the mechanisms and an investigation of possible interventions are critical to reversing this phenomenon. We examined the impact of maternal Western-style diet consumption on the development of islet vascularization and innervation, both of which are critical to normal islet function, in fetal and juvenile offspring. Furthermore, we assessed whether improved dietary intake or resveratrol supplementation could ameliorate the harmful consequences of Western-style diet consumption during pregnancy. Adult female Japanese macaques were maintained on a control or Westernstyle diet for 4-7 yr. One cohort of dams was switched back onto a control diet, whereas another cohort received resveratrol supplementation throughout gestation. Pregnancies were terminated in the early third trimester by C-section, or offspring were born naturally and sent to necropsy at 1 yr of age. Western-style diet consumption resulted in impaired fetal islet capillary density and sympathetic islet innervation. Furthermore, this reduction in vascularization persisted in the juvenile offspring. This effect is independent of changes in the expression of key angiogenic markers. Diet reversal normalized islet vascularization to control offspring levels, whereas resveratrol supplementation caused a significant increase in capillary density above controls. These data provide a novel mechanism by which maternal Western-style diet consumption leads to increased susceptibility to type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Importantly, an improved maternal diet may mitigate these harmful effects. However, until the long-term consequences of increased vascularization can be determined, resveratrol use during pregnancy is not advised.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E115-E123
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • High fat diet
  • Nonhuman primate
  • Pregnancy
  • Resveratrol
  • Vascularization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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