Unbalanced nutrition during perinatal period causes varying degrees of perturbations in the metabolism and cognitive functions of offspring. The aim of this study was to investigate effects of maternal and postweaning high-fat diet (HFD) exposure on the growth parameters, hippocampal functions and morphology of offspring in a sex-dependent manner. Spraque-Dawley rats were fed either standard (10 % fat) or saturated-fat (65 % fat) diet during their gestation and lactation period. After weaning, pups were sustained in same diet for 6 more weeks. Body mass index (BMI) of pups were monitored weekly, then spontaneous locomotor activities were recorded. Spatial learning and memory functions were analyzed by Morris Water Maze (MWM) test. Total volumetric changes of hippocampal subfields were estimated by Cavalieri method. HFD exposure produced sex-dependent alterations in BMI, serum lipid and activity levels. MWM results showed no significant difference among groups. However, retrieval indexes were higher in HFD-fed males. Total volumetric analysis of the dentate gyrus was comparable, but the pyramidal cell layer volume of HFD-fed males was lower than those of SD-fed males. Despite alterations in some growth and lipid parameters, maternal and perinatal exposure to HFD did not markedly affect cognitive functions and hippocampal morphology of offspring.
KEY WORDS: High-fat diet; Morris Water Maze; Hippocampus; Activity meter; Cavalieri volume estimation.