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Wright, Thomas (2012)
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Epidemiological studies indicate that the prevalence of obesity and overweight is increasing rapidly in both developed and developing countries. Against this background it is important to determine the effects of obesity upon health and well-being. Defining the impact of obesity upon behaviour lies within the scope of such studies. It is known that variation in the maternal diet during early sensitive periods of development can programme risk of obesity and metabolic dysfunction in offspring. Although the effect of maternal obesity and/ or obesogenic diet throughout pregnancy and lactation on a wide range of physiological systems in rats is well documented, the effect of such manipulations on behaviour is yet to be elucidated in detail. The initial aim of the present thesis was to use a rat model to investigate the relative contribution of maternal obesity induced by a hyperenergetic cafeteria diet (CD) prior to pregnancy and/or maternal exposure to the CD during pregnancy and lactation, on anxiety and exploratory behaviour in adult offspring. Despite all of the maternal feeding periods having some contribution to offspring behaviour, the lactation period appeared to be the most important, with maternal CD having an anxiolytic effect in offspring exposed to the elevated plus maze and open field paradigm. It was hypothesized that maternal exposure to CD during lactation would also impact upon appetite related behaviour and performance on behavioural measures of learning and memory in adult offspring. Maternal CD during the lactation period altered feeding behaviour as measured by the behavioural satiety sequence in adult offspring of both sexes. The structural integrity of feeding behaviour was grossly perturbed in female offspring, with a significant delay in the onset of satiety. Maternal CD during lactation enhanced memory performance on a novel object discrimination paradigm in male offspring, but reduced performance of females. CD feeding during lactation increased both 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) concentration and reduced 5-HT turnover in the hypothalamus, but not the hippocampus or the frontal cortex, in both male and female offspring. The findings outlined in the present thesis demonstrate for the first time that maternal exposure to an obesogenic diet during early sensitive periods of development can programme a range of behaviours in adult offspring of both sexes.
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