1st Page



This article in

  1. Vol. 85 No. 5, p. 1285-1294
    Received: Oct 28, 2005
    Accepted: Jan 08, 2007
    Published: December 8, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):


Maternal undernutrition during early to mid-gestation in the ewe results in altered growth, adiposity, and glucose tolerance in male offspring1

  1. S. P. Ford*†2,
  2. B. W. Hess*†,
  3. M. M. Schwope*†,
  4. M. J. Nijland*‡,
  5. J. S. Gilbert*‡,
  6. K. A. Vonnahme,
  7. W. J. Means*†,
  8. H. Han*† and
  9. P. W. Nathanielsz*‡
  1. The Center for the Study of Fetal Programming, Laramie, WY 82071;
    Department of Animal Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071;
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio, TX 78229; and
    Department of Animal and Range Sciences, Fargo, ND 58105


This study utilized maternal undernutrition from early to midgestation in the ewe to determine the impact(s) of intrauterine growth restriction on postpartum growth of male offspring and the potential mechanisms involved. Multiparous ewes were fed 50% (nutrient-restricted) or 100% (control-fed) of their nutrient requirements (NRC, 1985) between d 28 and 78 of gestation, and then all ewes were fed 100% of the NRC requirements from d 79 through lambing. Male lambs born to nutrient-restricted (n = 9) and control-fed (n = 9) ewes exhibited similar BW (5.8 vs. 6.0 ± 0.3 kg) and crown-rump lengths (53.8 vs. 55.4 ± 1.0 cm) at birth. At 63 and 250 d of postnatal age, wether lambs were subjected to a glucose tolerance test, in which a bolus of glucose was administered i.v. to evaluate changes in glucose and insulin concentrations. After i.v. glucose administration at 63 d of age, lambs from nutrient-restricted ewes exhibited a greater area under the curve for glucose (AUCg; 6,281 vs. 5,242 ± 429; P < 0.05) and insulin (AUCi; 21.0 vs. 8.6 ± 1.9; P < 0.001) than lambs from control-fed ewes. After glucose administration at 250 d of age, lambs from nutrient-restricted ewes had greater AUCg (7,147 vs. 5,823 ± 361; P < 0.01) but a lower AUCi (6.4 vs. 10.2 ± 1.9; P = 0.05) than lambs from control-fed ewes. Lambs from nutrient-restricted ewes were heavier (26.6 vs. 21.8 ± 2.3 kg; P < 0.05) and had more backfat (0.30 vs. 0.21 ± 0.03 cm, P < 0.05) by 4 mo of age than the lambs from control-fed ewes. At slaughter at 280 d of age, lambs from nutrient-restricted ewes remained heavier than lambs from control-fed ewes, had greater (P < 0.05) amounts of kidney and pelvic-area adipose tissue, and tended (P < 0.10) to have reduced LM and semitendinosus muscle weights as a percentage of HCW. These data demonstrate that a bout of maternal undernutrition during early to midgestation in sheep increased BW and fat deposition during adolescence and dysregulated glucose uptake in the absence of any change in birth weight.

Copyright © 2007. Copyright 2007 Journal of Animal Science