Effect of maternal nutrient restriction on skeletal muscle mass and associated molecular pathways in SGA and Non-SGA sheep fetuses. Academic Article uri icon


  • Maternal nutrient restriction causes small for gestational age (SGA) offspring, which exhibit a higher risk for metabolic syndrome in adulthood. Fetal skeletal muscle is particularly sensitive to maternal nutrient restriction, which impairs muscle mass and metabolism. Using a 50% nutrient restriction treatment from gestational day (GD) 35 to GD 135 in sheep, we routinely observe a spectral phenotype of fetal weights within the nutrient-restricted (NR) group. Thus, our objective was to evaluate the effect of maternal NR on muscle mass, myofiber hypertrophy, myonuclear dotation, and molecular markers for protein synthesis and degradation, while accounting for the observed fetal weight variation. Within the NR group, we classified upper-quartile fetuses into NR(Non-SGA) (n = 11) and lower-quartile fetuses into NR(SGA) (n = 11). A control group (n = 12) received 100% of nutrient requirements throughout pregnancy. At GD 135, fetal plasma and organs were collected, and gastrocnemius and soleus muscles were sampled for investigation. Results showed decreased (P < 0.05) absolute tissue/organ weights, including soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, in NR(SGA) fetuses compared to NR(Non-SGA) and control. Myofiber cross-sectional area was smaller in NR(SGA) vs control for gastrocnemius (P = 0.0092) and soleus (P = 0.0097) muscles. Within the gastrocnemius muscle, the number of myonuclei per myofiber was reduced (P = 0.0442) in NR(SGA) compared to control. Cortisol may induce protein degradation. However, there were no differences in fetal cortisol among groups. Nevertheless, for gastrocnemius muscle, cortisol receptor (NR3C1; P = 0.0124), and FOXO1 (P = 0.0131) were upregulated in NR(SGA) compared to control while NR(Non-SGA) did not differ from the other 2 groups. KLF15 was upregulated (P = 0.0002) in both NR(SGA) and NR(Non-SGA); while FBXO32, TRIM63, BCAT2 or MSTN did not differ. For soleus muscle, KLF15 mRNA was upregulated (P = 0.0145) in NR(SGA) compared to control, and expression of MSTN was increased (P = 0.0259) in NR(SGA) and NR(Non-SGA) compared to control. At the protein level, none of the mentioned molecules nor total ubiquitin-labeled proteins differed among groups (P > 0.05). Indicators of protein synthesis (total and phosphorylated MTOR, EI4EBP1, and RPS6KB1) did not differ among groups in either muscle (P > 0.05). Collectively, results highlight that maternal NR unequally affects muscle mass in NR(SGA) and NR(Non-SGA) fetuses, and alterations in myofiber cross-sectional area and myonuclei number partially explain those differences.

published proceedings

  • Domest Anim Endocrinol

author list (cited authors)

  • Sandoval, C., Lambo, C. A., Beason, K., Dunlap, K. A., & Satterfield, M. C.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Sandoval, C||Lambo, CA||Beason, K||Dunlap, KA||Satterfield, MC

publication date

  • July 2020