Vitamin A supplementation in early life affects later response to an obesogenic diet in rats

N. Granados, J. Amengual, J. Ribot, H. Musinovic, E. Ceresi, J. Von Lintig, A. Palou, M. L. Bonet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective:To assess the influence of supplementation with a moderate dose of vitamin A in early life on adipose tissue development and the response to an obesogenic diet later in life.Methods:During the suckling period, rat pups received a daily oral dose of retinyl palmitate corresponding to three times the vitamin A ingested daily from maternal milk. Control rats received the vehicle (olive oil). Short-term effects of treatment on gene expression and morphology of white adipose tissue (WAT) were analyzed in animals on the day after weaning (day 21). To study long-term effects, control and vitamin A-treated rats were fed, after weaning, a normal fat or a high-fat (HF) diet for 16 weeks.Results:WAT of vitamin A-treated young rats (day 21) was enriched in small adipocytes with a reduced expression of adipogenic markers (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ and lipoprotein lipase) and an increased cell proliferation potential as indicated by increased expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Increased retinoic acid (RA)-induced transcriptional responses were present in the tissues of vitamin A-treated young rats (day 21) including WAT. Vitamin A-treated rats developed higher adiposity than control rats on a HF diet as indicated by body composition analysis and increased WAT depot mass, adipocyte diameter, WAT DNA content, leptinemia and adipose leptin gene expression. Excess adiposity gain in vitamin A-treated rats developed in the absence of changes in body weight and was attributable to excess adipocyte hyperplasia. No differences in adiposity were observed between vitamin A-treated rats and control rats on a normal fat diet. Total retinol levels in WAT of vitamin A-treated rats were elevated at weaning (day 21) and normalized by day 135 of age.Conclusion:Vitamin A intake in the early stages of postnatal life favors subsequent HF diet-induced adiposity gain through mechanisms that may relate to changes in adipose tissue development, likely mediated by RA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1176
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Vitamin A
  • adiposity
  • early life nutrition
  • high-fat diet
  • programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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