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ChengCheng Lin, Bei Shao, YuLei Zhou, XiaoTing Niu and YuanShao Lin

Diet-induced epigenetic modifications in early life could contribute to later health problem. However, it remains to be established whether high-fat diet (HFD) consumption during pregnancy and the suckling period could predispose the offspring to stroke. The present study investigated the influence of maternal HFD on stroke outcome in adult offspring. Female Sprague–Dawley rats were fed a normal diet (5.3% fat) or a HFD (25.7% fat), just before pregnancy until the end of lactation. Male offspring were fed with the control diet or the HFD after weaning, to form four groups (control offspring fed with the control diet (C/C) or the HFD (C/HFD) and offspring of fat-fed dams fed with the control diet (HFD/C) or the HFD (HFD/HFD)). The offspring received middle cerebral artery occlusion on day 120 followed by behavioral tests (neurological deficit score, staircase-reaching test and beam-traversing test), and infarct volumes were also calculated. We found that the HFD/C rats displayed larger infarct volume and aggravated functional deficits (all P<0.05), compared with the C/C rats, indicating that maternal fat-rich diet renders the brain more susceptible to the consequences of ischemic injury. Moreover, maternal HFD offspring displayed elevated glucocorticoid concentrations following stroke, and increased glucocorticoid receptor expression. In addition, adrenalectomy reversed the effects of maternal HFD on stroke outcome when corticosterone was replaced at baseline, but not ischemic, concentrations. Furthermore, expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the ipsilateral hippocampus was decreased in the HFD/C offspring (P<0.05), compared with the C/C offspring. Taken together, maternal diet can substantially influence adult cerebrovascular health, through the programming of central BDNF expression and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.

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XiaoFeng Li, Bei Shao, ChengCheng Lin, Kevin T O'Byrne and YuanShao Lin

Stress exerts profound inhibitory effects on reproductive function by suppression of the pulsatile release of GnRH and therefore LH. Besides the corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF), this effect also might be mediated via GABAergic signaling within the arcuate nucleus (ARC) since its inhibitory effects on LH pulses and increased activity during stress. In the present study, we investigated the role of endogenous GABAergic signaling within the ARC in stress-induced suppression of LH pulses. Ovariectomised oestradiol-replaced rats were implanted with bilateral and unilateral cannulae targeting toward the ARC and lateral cerebral ventricle respectively. Blood samples (25 μl) were taken via chronically implanted cardiac catheters every 5 min for 6 h for measurement of LH pulses. Intra-ARC infusion of GABAA receptor antagonist, bicuculline (0.2 pmol in 200 nl artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) each side, three times at 20-min intervals) markedly attenuated the inhibitory effect of lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 25 μg/kg i.v.) but not restraint (1 h) stress on pulsatile LH secretion. In contrast, restraint but not LPS stress-induced suppression of LH pulse frequency was reversed by intra-ARC administration of GABABR antagonist, CGP-35348 (1.5 nmol in 200 nl aCSF each side, three times at 20-min intervals). Moreover, intra-ARC application of either bicuculline or CGP-35348 attenuated the inhibitory effect of CRF (1 nmol in 4 μl aCSF, i.c.v.) on the LH pulses. These data indicate a pivotal and differential role of endogenous GABAA and GABAB signaling mechanisms in the ARC with respect to mediating immunological and psychological stress-induced suppression of the GnRH pulse generator respectively.