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Daniel J Tobiansky, George V Kachkovski, Reilly T Enos, Kim L Schmidt, E Angela Murphy, and Kiran K Soma

Sucrose consumption is associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive deficits. Sucrose intake during pregnancy might have particularly prominent effects on metabolic, endocrine, and neural physiology. It remains unclear how consumption of sucrose affects parous females, especially in brain circuits that mediate food consumption and reward processing. Here, we examine whether a human-relevant level of sucrose before, during, and after pregnancy (17–18 weeks total) influences metabolic and neuroendocrine physiology in female rats. Females were fed either a control diet or a macronutrient-matched, isocaloric sucrose diet (25% of kcal from sucrose). Metabolically, sucrose impairs glucose tolerance, increases liver lipids, and increases a marker of adipose inflammation, but has no effect on body weight or overall visceral adiposity. Sucrose also decreases corticosterone levels in serum but not in the brain. Sucrose increases progesterone levels in serum and in the brain and increases the brain:serum ratio of progesterone in the mesocorticolimbic system and hypothalamus. These data suggest a dysregulation of systemic and local steroid signalling. Moreover, sucrose decreases tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a catecholamine-synthetic enzyme, in the medial prefrontal cortex. Finally, sucrose consumption alters the expression pattern of FOSB, a marker of phasic dopamine signalling, in the nucleus accumbens. Overall, chronic consumption of sucrose at a human-relevant level alters metabolism, steroid levels, and brain dopamine signalling in a female rat model.

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Daniel J Tobiansky, George V Kachkovski, Reilly T Enos, Kim L Schmidt, E Angela Murphy, Stan B Floresco, and Kiran K Soma

Maternal diets can have dramatic effects on the physiology, metabolism, and behaviour of offspring that persist into adulthood. However, the effects of maternal sucrose consumption on offspring remain unclear. Here, female rats were fed either a sucrose diet with a human-relevant level of sucrose (25% of kcal) or a macronutrient-matched, isocaloric control diet before, during, and after pregnancy. After weaning, all offspring were fed a standard low-sucrose rodent chow. We measured indicators of metabolism (weight, adipose, glucose tolerance, and liver lipids) during development and adulthood (16–24 weeks). We also measured food preference and motivation for sugar rewards in adulthood. Finally, in brain regions regulating these behaviours, we measured steroids and transcripts for steroidogenic enzymes, steroid receptors, and dopamine receptors. In male offspring, maternal sucrose intake decreased body mass and visceral adipose tissue, increased preference for high-sucrose and high-fat diets, increased motivation for sugar rewards, and decreased mRNA levels of Cyp17a1 (an androgenic enzyme) in the nucleus accumbens. In female offspring, maternal sucrose intake increased basal corticosterone levels. These data demonstrate the enduring, diverse, and sex-specific effects of maternal sucrose consumption on offspring phenotype.