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Lab Reports
August 2, 2016

Maternal Obesity Affects Sociality of Offspring by Altering Gut Bacteria

JAMA. 2016;316(5):484. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.10012

According to recent findings, a maternal high-fat diet in mice resulted in impaired social behaviors in their offspring, deficits that were associated with gut microbiome dysbiosis and alterations in neural plasticity (Buffington SA et al. Cell. 2016;165[7]:1762-1775).

Investigators fed female mice a high-fat diet to induce obesity or a regular diet to maintain a normal weight and then bred these mice and fed their offspring a regular diet after weaning. Scientists found that social behavior and gut microbiota were altered in offspring born to mothers on the high-fat diet compared with those born to mothers on a regular diet. Alterations in social behavior included spending less time in contact with peers and not initiating peer interactions. When socially impaired 3-week-old mice born to mothers on the high-fat diet acquired gut microbiota from cage mates whose mothers were on a regular diet, the investigators noted an improvement in social behavior within several weeks.