Scope: The long-lasting consequences of nutritional programming during the early phase of life have become increasingly evident. The effects of maternal nutrition on the developing intestine are still underexplored.
Methods and results: In this study, we observed (1) altered microbiota composition of the colonic luminal content, and (2) differential gene expression in the intestinal wall in 2-week-old mouse pups born from dams exposed to a Western-style (WS) diet during the perinatal period. A sexually dimorphic effect was found for the differentially expressed genes in the offspring of WS diet-exposed dams but no differences between male and female pups were found for the microbiota composition. Integrative analysis of the microbiota and gene expression data revealed that the maternal WS diet independently affected gene expression and microbiota composition. However, the abundance of bacterial families not affected by the WS diet (Bacteroidaceae, Porphyromonadaceae, and Lachnospiraceae) correlated with the expression of genes playing a key role in intestinal development and functioning (e.g. Pitx2 and Ace2).
Conclusion: Our data reveal that maternal consumption of a WS diet during the perinatal period alters both gene expression and microbiota composition in the intestinal tract of 2-week-old offspring.