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Nutritional programming and the reproductive function of the offspring

Abstract : There is ample evidence on the importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy on fetal and offspring development. In ruminant females, the pool of oocytes is complete and definitive before birth, based on the resting reserve of primordial follicles established during fetal life, which represent the lifespan supply for the female’s fertilisable oocytes, whereas in males, although the production of spermatozoa is a continuous process throughout post-pubertal life. Sertoli cells, which play a central role in the development of a functional testis, proliferate during pre- and post-natal life, coordinating testicular development. Both male and female fertility may, therefore, be affected by the maternal environment, but studies on the effects of developmental nutritional conditions on reproductive function and fertility, both in males and females, are relatively scarce. In humans, intrauterine growth retardation has been associated with abnormal ovarian development, characterised by a decreased volume of primordial follicles in the ovarian cortical tissue in girls, and a higher incidence of cryptorchidism in boys, with subsequent low sperm counts in adulthood. Age at puberty and gonadotropin and inhibin B plasma concentrations are also affected. Animal studies suggest both in males and females that maternal undernutrition during pregnancy may affect pituitary response to GnRH and gonadal development and function, depending on the timing and magnitude of the undernutrition. Excess nutrition, which is often associated with intrauterine growth retardation in domestic species, induces effects on the onset of puberty and both testicular and ovarian function, maybe through the observed reduction in fetal growth. This review addresses the influence of maternal nutrition on offspring reproductive function using examples in humans and animals, with particular focus on ruminants.
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Pascale Chavatte-Palmer, Charlotte C. Dupont, Nathalie Debus, Sylvaine S. Camous. Nutritional programming and the reproductive function of the offspring. Animal Production Science, 2014, 54 (9), pp.1166-1176. ⟨10.1071/AN14470⟩. ⟨hal-02630559⟩



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