Publications : 2003

Rogers EH, Hunter ES, Rosen MB, Rogers JM, Lau C, Hartig PC, Francis BM, Chernoff N. 2003. Lack of evidence for intergenerational reproductive effects due to prenatal and postnatal undernutrition in the female CD-1 mouse. Reprod Toxicol 17:519–525.


The impacts of adverse environments during the prenatal and/or early postnatal periods may be manifested as functional deficits that occur later in life. Epidemiological studies have shown an association of sub-optimal pregnancy outcomes in one generation with similar events in the following one, a phenomenon termed the “intergenerational effect”. Data indicate that the incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes and/or low birth weight infants is more closely correlated with the mother’s perinatal environment than with that during her pregnancy. However, epidemiological studies are inherently limited given the variability of lifestyles, ethnicity, nutritional status, and exposures to environmental factors. An appropriate animal model would permit control of parameters that may be impossible to evaluate in human populations. The current studies investigated the mouse as a possible animal model. Pregnant CD-1 mice were placed on an ad libitum or food-restricted diet (50% normal) throughout gestation to generate control (CON) and intrauterine growth retarded (IUGR) litters. At birth (postnatal day (PD) 1) pups (F1) were cross-fostered to control dams in litters of either 8 (CON) or 16 (postnatal food restriction (FR)). The experimental groups thus generated represented adequate nutrition (CON-CON) and undernutrition during the prenatal (IUGR-CON), or postnatal periods (CON-FR), or both (IUGR-FR). Pups of dams on a restricted diet during gestation had significant IUGR (P<0.001) as compared to controls (birth weights of 1.32 g versus 1.63 g). At weaning, the average weight of the pups was dependent on postnatal litter size and the difference in birth weights between IUGR and CON animals was not a significant factor. CON-CON pup weight was 24.1g and IUGR-CON was 22.2 g as compared to the CON-FR (17.0 g) and IUGR-FR (17.3 g) groups. The difference in weaning pup weights between the FR and CON groups was significant (P<0.01). The F1 FR females did not reach CON female weights at any time point through 11 months after weaning. At PD60, a single breeding period for all groups of females with CON males began and continued for 75 days with 17 opportunities for breeding. Animals that became pregnant during this time were removed and allowed to litter. No significant differences were noted in average F2 litter size or average pup weight at birth: (CON-CON 12.2/1.62 g; IUGR-CON 11.9/1.6 2 g; CON-FR 10.9/1.70 g; IUGR-FR 11.3/1.61 g). We conclude that body weight at birth in the CD-1 mouse is not correlated with growth through the period of weaning (PD28). We did not find any evidence for an intergenerational reproductive effect after developmental undernutrition.