Recent increases in fructose consumption have raised concerns about the potential adverse in-tergenerational effects of excess fructose intake. In the present study, we investigated whether excess maternal fructose intake affects hippocampal function in offspring. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into 3 experimental groups: one group received distilled water, one group received 20% fructose water, and one group received 20% glucose water in addition to standard chow during gestation and lactation. Hippocampal function of offspring was evaluated by using novel object recognition and fear conditioning tests. Impaired cognitive performance was observed in the offspring of fructose-fed dams at postnatal d 60, potentially a result of decreased hippocampal neurogenesis. Real-time PCR analysis demonstrated that offspring from fructose-fed dams exhibited decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene expression, whereas pyrosequencing assays revealed increased DNA methylation at the BDNF promoter. The potential association between BDNF transcription and levels of DNA methylation was confirmed on the basis of luciferase activity. Furthermore, longitudinal analysis revealed that increased methylation of the BDNF promoter region was maintained at least until rats reached maturity. These results indicate that epigenetic changes associated with BDNF may underlie hippocampal dysfunction that is induced by early-life exposure to excess maternal fructose consumption.
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