Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

The annual Irish Section Postgraduate meeting, University College Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland.17–19 February 2010,

Irish Section Postgraduate Symposium

The conflicting effects of maternal nutrient restriction and early-life obesity on renal health

H. P. Fainberga1 c1, H. Budgea2 and M. E. Symondsa2

a1 School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK

a2 Early Life Nutrition Research Unit and Respiratory Medicine Biomedical Research Unit, Academic Child Health, School of Clinical Sciences, University Hospital, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK


Epidemiological and animal studies have demonstrated that early-life nutrition alters the metabolic responses and generates structural changes in complex tissues, such as the kidneys, which may lead to a reduction in the offspring lifespan. Independently, obesity induces a spontaneous low-grade chronic inflammatory response by modulating several of the major metabolic pathways that ultimately compromise long-term renal health. However, the combined effects of maternal nutrition and early-life obesity in the development of renal diseases are far from conclusive. Previous results, using the ovine model, demonstrated that the combination of a reduction in fetal nutrition and juvenile obesity induced a series of adaptations associated with severe metabolic syndrome in the heart and adipose tissue. Surprisingly, exposure to an obesogenic environment in the kidney of those offspring produced an apparent reduction in glomerulosclerosis in relation to age- and weight-matched controls. However, this reduction in cellular apoptosis was accompanied by a rise in glomerular filtration rate and blood pressure of equal intensity when compared with obese controls. The intention of this review is to explain the adaptive responses observed in this model, based on insights into the mechanism of renal fetal programming, and their potential interactions with some of the metabolic changes produced by obesity.

(Online publication January 14 2011)