Background: Maternal obesity is associated with poor outcomes across the reproductive spectrum including infertility, increased time to pregnancy, early pregnancy loss, fetal loss, congenital abnormalities and neonatal conditions. Furthermore, the proportion of reproductive-aged woman that are obese in the population is increasing sharply. From current studies it is not clear if the origin of the reproductive complications is attributable to problems that arise in the oocyte or the uterine environment. Methodology/Principal Findings: We examined the developmental basis of the reproductive phenotypes in obese animals by employing a high fat diet mouse model of obesity. We analyzed very early embryonic and fetal phenotypes, which can be parsed into three abnormal developmental processes that occur in obese mothers. The first is oocyte meiotic aneuploidy that then leads to early embryonic loss. The second is an abnormal process distinct from meiotic aneuploidy that also leads to early embryonic loss. The third is fetal growth retardation and brain developmental abnormalities, which based on embryo transfer experiments are not due to the obese uterine environment but instead must be from a defect that arises prior to the blastocyst stage. Conclusions/Significance: Our results suggest that reproductive complications in obese females are, at least in part, from oocyte maternal effects. This conclusion is consistent with IVF studies where the increased pregnancy failure rate in obese women returns to the normal rate if donor oocytes are used instead of autologous oocytes. We postulate that preconceptional weight gain adversely affects pregnancy outcomes and fetal development. In light of our findings, preconceptional counseling may be indicated as the preferable, earlier target for intervention in obese women desiring pregnancy and healthy outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)