We previously reported that maternal fructose consumption increases blood corticosterone levels in rat offspring. However, the underlying mechanism of action remains unclear. In the present study, we aimed to elucidate the molecular mechanism by which maternal high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) intake increases circulating GC levels in rat offspring (GC; corticosterone in rodents and cortisol in humans). Female Sprague Dawley rats received HFCS solution during gestation and lactation. The male offspring were fed distilled water from weaning to 60 days of age. We investigated the activities of GC-metabolizing enzymes (11β-Hsd1 and 11β-Hsd2) in various tissues (i.e., liver, kidney, adrenal glands, muscle, and white adipose tissue) and epigenetic modification. 11β-Hsd2 activity decreased in the kidney of the HFCS-fed dams. Moreover, the epigenetic analysis suggested that miR-27a reduced Hsd11b2 mRNA expression in the kidney of offspring. Maternal HFCS-induced elevation of circulating GC levels in offspring may be explained by a decrease in 11β-Hsd2 activity via renal miR-27a expression. The present study may allow us to determine one of the mechanisms of GC elevation in rat offspring that is often observed in the developmental origins of the health and disease (DOHaD) phenomenon.
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