Exposure to maternal obesity may promote metabolic dysfunction in offspring. We used infant mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to experimentally examine cellular mechanisms of intergenerational health transmission. Our earlier reports show MSCs collected from infants of mothers with obesity had a dichotomous distribution in metabolic efficiency; they were either efficient (Ef-Ob) or inefficient (In-Ob) with respect to fatty acid oxidation (FAO). Here, we sought to determine if this was due to a primary defect in FAO. Accordingly, we measured FAO in myogenic differentiating MSCs under 3 conditions: (a) myogenesis alone, (b) excess fatty acid exposure, and (c) excess fatty acid exposure plus a chemical uncoupler to increase metabolic rate. Compared with normal weight and Ef-Ob MSCs, In-Ob displayed lower FAO in myogenesis alone and after fatty acid plus uncoupler, indicating In-Ob were less metabolically flexible after increasing lipid availability and metabolic rate, demonstrating a primary deficit in FAO. MSC FAO was negatively associated with fasting maternal glucose and insulin and positively associated with fasting HDL-cholesterol. MSC FAO was negatively associated with infant fat mass. These data indicate a less favorable maternal metabolic milieu, independent of maternal BMI, reduces intrinsic MSC FAO and is linked to higher infant adiposity as early as birth.


Melissa L. Erickson, Zachary W. Patinkin, Allison M. Duensing, Dana Dabelea, Leanne M. Redman, Kristen E. Boyle


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