Examining maternal influence on OLETF rats' early overweight: Insights from a cross-fostering study

Mariana Schroeder, Michal Schechter, Ester Fride, Timothy H. Moran, Aron Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Obese female Otsuka Long Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rats display increased nursing time and frequency compared to lean LETO controls, suggesting a maternal contribution to pup preobesity. In previous studies, OLETF pups presented high adiposity, showed greater suckling efficiency, initiative and weight gain from nursing than controls throughout lactation. To further elucidate maternal-infant interactions contributing to pup preobesity, we cross-fostered pups a day after birth and examined maternal behavior. Nursing frequency decreased in OLETF dams raising LETO pups (OdLp) in the third postnatal week, while LETO dams raising OLETF pups showed no significant changes. Fat % was greater in the milk of OLETF versus LETO dams. OdLp pups showed long-term body weight (BW) increase, suggesting that maternal environment can induce BWincreases even in the absence of a genetic tendency. Additionally, interaction between OLETF dams and pups produces high nursing frequency, exposing the pups to abundant high-fat milk, thus strengthening their preobese phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-366
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Lactation
  • Maternal behavior
  • Nursing
  • Obesity
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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