Maternal diets deficient in folic acid and related methyl donors modify mechanisms associated with lipid metabolism in the fetal liver of the rat.
ABSTRACT Previously we have examined the effects of diets deficient in folic acid ( - F) or folate deficient with low methionine and choline ( - F LM LC) on the relative abundance of soluble proteins in the liver of the pregnant rat. In the present study we report the corresponding changes in the fetal liver at day 21 of gestation. The abundance of eighteen proteins increased when dams were fed the - F diet. When dams were fed the - F LM LC diet, thirty-three proteins increased and eight decreased. Many of the differentially abundant proteins in the fetal liver could be classified into the same functional groups as those previously identified in the maternal liver, namely protein synthesis, metabolism, lipid metabolism and proteins associated with the cytoskeleton and endoplasmic reticulum. The pattern was consistent with reduced cell proliferation in the - F LM LC group but not in the - F group. Metabolic enzymes associated with lipid metabolism changed in both the - F and - F LM LC groups. The mRNA for carnitine palmitoyl transferase were up-regulated and CD36 (fatty acid translocase) down-regulated in the - F group, suggesting increased mitochondrial oxidation of fatty acids as an indirect response to altered maternal lipid metabolism. In the - F LM LC group the mRNA for acetyl CoA carboxylase was down-regulated, suggesting reduced fatty acid synthesis. The mRNA for transcriptional regulators including PPARalpha and sterol response element-binding protein-1c were unchanged. These results suggest that an adequate supply of folic acid and the related methyl donors may benefit fetal development directly by improving lipid metabolism in fetal as well as maternal tissues.