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Spontaneous intrauterine growth restriction due to increased litter size in the guinea pig programmes postnatal growth, appetite and adult body composition

Horton, D.M.; Saint, D.A.; Owens, J.A.; Kind, K.L.; Gatford, K.L.

Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 7(5): 548-562

2016


ISSN/ISBN: 2040-1744
PMID: 27335275
DOI: 10.1017/s2040174416000295
Accession: 058892429

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Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and subsequent neonatal catch-up growth are implicated in the programming of increased appetite, adiposity and cardiometabolic diseases. Guinea pigs provide an alternate small animal model to rodents to investigate mechanisms underlying prenatal programming, being relatively precocial at birth, with smaller litter sizes and undergoing neonatal catch-up growth after IUGR. The current study, therefore, investigated postnatal consequences of spontaneous IUGR due to varying litter size in this species. Size at birth, neonatal, juvenile (post-weaning, 30-60 days) and adolescent (60-90 days) growth, juvenile and adolescent food intake, and body composition of young adults (120 days) were measured in 158 male and female guinea pigs from litter sizes of one to five pups. Compared with singleton pups, birth weight of pups from litters of five was reduced by 38%. Other birth size measures were reduced to lesser degrees with head dimensions being relatively conserved. Pups from larger litters had faster fractional neonatal growth and faster absolute and fractional juvenile growth rates (P<0.005 for all). Relationships of post-weaning growth, feed intakes and adult body composition with size at birth and neonatal growth rate were sex specific, with neonatal growth rates strongly and positively correlated with adiposity in males only. In conclusion, spontaneous IUGR due to large litter sizes in the guinea pig causes many of the programmed sequelae of IUGR reported in other species, including human. This may therefore be a useful model to investigate the mechanisms underpinning perinatal programming of hyperphagia, obesity and longer-term metabolic consequences.

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