Perinatal Hypercholesterolemia Exacerbates Atherosclerosis Lesions in Offspring by Altering Metabolism of Trimethylamine-N-Oxide and Bile Acids
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Objective—Experimental studies suggest that maternal hypercholesterolemia may be relevant for the early onset of cardiovascular disease in offspring. We investigated the effect of perinatal hypercholesterolemia on the atherosclerosis development in the offspring of apolipoprotein E–deficient mice and the underlying mechanism.
Approach and Results—Atherosclerosis and related parameters were studied in adult male or female apolipoprotein E–deficient mice offspring from either normocholesterolemic or hypercholesterolemic mothers and normocholesterolemic fathers. Female born to hypercholesterolemic mothers had more aortic root lesions than female born to normocholesterolemic mothers. Lesions in whole aorta did not differ between groups. Higher trimethylamine-N-oxide levels and Fmo3 hepatic gene expression were higher in female born to hypercholesterolemic mothers offspring compared with female born to normocholesterolemic mothers and male. Trimethylamine-N-oxide levels were correlated with the size of atherosclerotic root lesions. Levels of hepatic cholesterol and gallbladder bile acid were greater in male born to hypercholesterolemic mothers compared with male born to normocholesterolemic mothers. At 18 weeks of age, female born to hypercholesterolemic mothers showed lower hepatic Scarb1 and Cyp7a1 but higher Nr1h4 gene expression compared with female born to normocholesterolemic mothers. Male born to hypercholesterolemic mothers showed an increase in Scarb1 and Ldlr gene expression compared with male born to normocholesterolemic mothers. At 25 weeks of age, female born to hypercholesterolemic mothers had lower Cyp7a1 gene expression compared with female born to normocholesterolemic mothers. DNA methylation of Fmo3, Scarb1, and Ldlr promoter regions was slightly modified and may explain the mRNA expression modulation.
Conclusions—Our findings suggest that maternal hypercholesterolemia may exacerbate the development of atherosclerosis in female offspring by affecting metabolism of trimethylamine-N-oxide and bile acids. These data could be explained by epigenetic alterations.
- Received March 14, 2017.
- Accepted August 30, 2017.
- © 2017 American Heart Association, Inc.