Thermoneutral Housing Enables Studies of Vertical Transmission of Obesogenic Diet-Driven Metabolic Diseases

Jennifer L. Wayland, Jessica R. Doll, Matthew J. Lawson, Traci E. Stankiewicz, Jarren R. Oates, Keisuke Sawada, Michelle S.M.A. Damen, Pablo C. Alarcon, David B. Haslam, Andrew T. Trout, Emily A. DeFranco, Corie M. Klepper, Jessica G. Woo, Maria E. Moreno-Fernandez, Marialena Mouzaki, Senad Divanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vertical transmission of obesity is a critical contributor to the unabated obesity pandemic and the associated surge in metabolic diseases. Existing experimental models insufficiently recapitulate “human-like” obesity phenotypes, limiting the discovery of how severe obesity in pregnancy instructs vertical transmission of obesity. Here, via utility of thermoneutral housing and obesogenic diet feeding coupled to syngeneic mating of WT obese female and lean male mice on a C57BL/6 background, we present a tractable, more “human-like” approach to specifically investigate how maternal obesity contributes to offspring health. Using this model, we found that maternal obesity decreased neonatal survival, increased offspring adiposity, and accelerated offspring predisposition to obesity and metabolic disease. We also show that severe maternal obesity was sufficient to skew offspring microbiome and create a proinflammatory gestational environment that correlated with inflammatory changes in the offspring in utero and adulthood. Analysis of a human birth cohort study of mothers with and without obesity and their infants was consistent with mouse study findings of maternal inflammation and offspring weight gain propensity. Together, our results show that dietary induction of obesity in female mice coupled to thermoneutral housing can be used for future mechanistic interrogations of obesity and metabolic disease in pregnancy and vertical transmission of pathogenic traits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4958
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • amniotic fluid
  • developmental origin of health and disease (DOHaD)
  • high-fat diet
  • inflammation
  • intrauterine programming
  • metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD)
  • pregnancy
  • stillbirth
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Thermoneutral Housing Enables Studies of Vertical Transmission of Obesogenic Diet-Driven Metabolic Diseases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this