Public Release:  Maternal low protein diet promotes diabetic phenotypes in offspring

Journal of Clinical Investigation

Millions of people throughout the world are affected by diabetes. In particular, the rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes is associated with global increases in obesity and changes in diet. There is also a genetic component to the development of type 2 diabetes, and recent evidence suggests that the fetal environment can influence the onset of this disease. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that a maternal diet low in protein predisposes offspring to type 2 diabetes. Ernesto Bernal-Mizrachi and colleagues at the University of Michigan fed female mice either a normal diet or one low in protein throughout their pregnancies. Offspring of mothers fed a low protein diet had decreased insulin levels and fewer β cells, the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. Additionally, as adults, insulin secretion by β cells in these offspring was defective. The β cell dysfunction in the offspring of mothers fed a low protein diet was associated with altered expression of microRNAs and autophagy pathways. Importantly, activation of autophagy pathways in utero restored β cell function in offspring from low-diet fed mothers. This study provides insight into how a maternal diet that is low in protein diet alters offspring β cell mass and function, predisposing offspring to type 2 diabetes.


Maternal diet-induced microRNAs and mTOR underlie β cell dysfunction in offspring

Ernesto Bernal-Mizrachi
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0678, USA.
Phone: 734.615.0262; E-mail:

View this article at:

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.