Purpose To examine the feasibility of using MRI to identify differences in liver size and fat deposition in fetal Guinea pigs exposed to an in utero environment influenced by maternal consumption of a Western diet. Materials and methods Female Guinea pigs fed either an energy-dense Western Diet (WD), comprised of increased saturated fats and simple sugars, or a Control Diet (CD) from weaning through pregnancy, underwent MR scanning near term (~ 60 days; term ~ 69 days). Maternal weights were collected at mating and at MR scanning. T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and IDEAL water-fat images were acquired at 3 Tesla. The images were used to segment maternal adipose tissue, fetal liver, fetal brain, fetal adipose tissue, and total fetal volumes and to measure maternal and fetal hepatic fat fractions. Results Weights of WD sows were lower prior to pregnancy (P = .04), however their weight gain over pregnancy did not differ from the CD group (P = .98). The WD sows had less total adipose tissue (TAT) at MR scanning (P = .04), while hepatic fat content was significantly elevated (P = .04). When controlling for litter size, WD fetuses had larger livers (P = .02), smaller brains (P = .01), and increased total adipose tissue volume (P = .01) when normalized by fetal volume. The WD fetuses also had increased hepatic fat fractions compared to CD fetal livers (P <.001). Conclusion Maternal Western Diet consumption prior to and during pregnancy induces differences in maternal liver fat content, fetal liver volume and liver fat storage, as well as changes in fetal adipose tissue deposition that can be measured in utero using MRI.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/barbra-devrijer/9/