The aim of the present study was to determine the time course of changes in oxidant/antioxidant status, as well as serum glucose, insulin, leptin and lipid levels, liver adipose tissue and muscle lipid and protein contents, in cafeteria-diet-fed dams during gestation and lactation, and in their offspring throughout adulthood. Food intake was also evaluated. The cafeteria diet induced a significant increase in maternal body and relative adipose tissue weights, daily energy intake, and plasma glucose, insulin, leptin and lipid levels at parturition (day 0) and at the end of lactation (day 21). Plasma total antioxidant status [ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity)], erythrocyte catalase and SOD (superoxide dismutase) activities were lower, whereas plasma hydroperoxide and carbonyl protein levels were higher in cafeteria-diet-fed mothers compared with control mothers at days 0 and 21. Pups from cafeteria-diet-fed dams, both males and females, also had consistently higher body and relative adipose tissue weights, and plasma glucose, insulin, leptin, triacylglycerol (triglyceride) and cholesterol levels at birth (day 0), weaning (day 21) and 3 months of age (day 90). These offspring had significantly lower ORAC and catalase activity, and higher plasma hydroperoxide and carbonyl protein levels and SOD activity at birth, at days 21 and 90 compared with control offspring. In conclusion, excessive maternal fat and energy intake can play an important role in the development of metabolic disorders in the offspring. Maternal oxidative stress may be among the responsible factors. Fetal oxidative stress may present an additional confounding influence and probably contributes to additional disorders, aggravating features of the metabolic syndrome. An improvement in maternal oxidant/antioxidant status during pregnancy and lactation, with adequate nutrition, could have beneficial effects on the progeny.

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