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Exendin-4 is effective against metabolic disorders induced by intrauterine and postnatal overnutrition in rodents.

Chen H, Simar D, Pegg K, Saad S, Palmer C, Morris MJ

  • Journal Diabetologia

  • Published 14 Dec 2013

  • Volume 57

  • ISSUE 3

  • Pagination 614-22

  • DOI 10.1007/s00125-013-3132-5


Maternal obesity leads to increased adiposity, hyperlipidaemia and glucose intolerance in offspring. The analogue of glucagon-like peptide-1, exendin-4 (Ex-4), has been shown to induce weight loss in both adolescence and adulthood. We hypothesised that, in rats, daily injection of Ex-4 would reduce body fat and improve metabolic disorders in offspring from obese dams, especially those consuming a high-fat diet (HFD).

Female Sprague Dawley rats were fed chow or an HFD for 5 weeks before mating, and throughout gestation and lactation. At postnatal day 20, male pups from HFD-fed mothers were weaned onto chow or HFD and those from chow-fed mothers were fed chow. Within each dietary group, half of the pups were injected with Ex-4 (15 μg/kg/day i.p.) for 6 weeks, while the other half received saline.

Maternal obesity alone or combined with postweaning HFD consumption led to increased adiposity, hyperinsulinaemia, hyperlipidaemia, inflammation and impaired regulation of hypothalamic appetite regulators by glucose in offspring, while glucose intolerance was only observed in HFD-fed rats from obese dams. Ex-4 injection significantly reduced adiposity, hyperlipidaemia and insulin resistance in HFD-fed rats from obese dams. It also restored glucose tolerance and the lipid-lowering effect of blood glucose. However, Ex-4 did not change hypothalamic appetite regulation or the response of appetite regulators to hyperglycaemia. Liver and adipose inflammatory cytokine expression was significantly reduced by Ex-4.

Ex-4 reversed the detrimental impact of maternal obesity on lipid and glucose metabolism in offspring regardless of diet, supporting its potential application in reducing metabolic disorders in high-risk populations.