Maternal obesity, lipotoxicity and cardiovascular diseases in offspring

Maolong Dong, Qijun Zheng, Stephen P. Ford, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Jun Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Maternal obesity has risen dramatically over the past 20. years, by nearly 42% in African-Americans and 29% in Caucasians. Maternal obesity is afflicted with many maternal obstetric complications in the offspring including high blood pressure, obesity, gestational diabetes and increased perinatal morbidity. Maternal nutritional environment plays a rather important role in the programming of the health set-points in the offspring such as glucose and insulin metabolism, energy balance and predisposition to metabolic disorders. In particular, maternal obesity is associated with elevated prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the offspring. Evidence from human and experimental studies including rodents and nonhuman primates has indicated that maternal obesity or overnutrition programs offspring for an increased risk of adult obesity. Maternal obesity or fat diet exposure predisposes the onset and development of obesity, insulin resistance, cardiac hypertrophy and myocardial contractile anomalies in the offspring. A number of mechanisms including elevated hormones (leptin, insulin), nutrients (fatty acids, triglycerides and glucose) and inflammatory cytokines have been postulated to play a key role in maternal obesity-induced postnatal cardiovascular sequelae. In addition, lipotoxicity (accumulation of lipid metabolites) resulting from maternal obesity is capable of activating a number of stress signaling cascades including pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress to exacerbate maternal obesity-induced cardiovascular complications later on in adult life. This mini-review summarizes the recent knowledge with regard to the role of lipotoxicity in maternal obesity-induced change in cardiovascular function in the offspring. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Focus on Cardiac Metabolism".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Insulin resistance
  • Maternal obesity
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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