Maternal consumption of a Western-style diet (mWD) during pregnancy alters fatty acid metabolism and reduces insulin sensitivity in fetal skeletal muscle. The long-term impact of these fetal adaptations and the pathways underlying disordered lipid metabolism are incompletely understood. Therefore, we tested whether a mWD chronically fed to lean, insulin-sensitive adult Japanese macaques throughout pregnancy and lactation would impact skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and lipid metabolism in adolescent offspring fed a postweaning (pw) Western-style diet (WD) or control diet (CD). Although body weight was not different, retroperitoneal fat mass and subscapular skinfold thickness were significantly higher in pwWD offspring consistent with elevated fasting insulin and glucose. Maximal complex I (CI)-dependent respiration in muscle was lower in mWD offspring in the presence of fatty acids, suggesting that mWD impacts muscle integration of lipid with nonlipid oxidation. Abundance of all five oxidative phosphorylation complexes and VDAC, but not ETF/ETFDH, were reduced with mWD, partially explaining the lower respiratory capacity with lipids. Muscle triglycerides increased with pwWD; however, the fold increase in lipid saturation, 1,2-diacylglycerides, and C18 ceramide compared between pwCD and pwWD was greatest in mWD offspring. Reductions in CI abundance and VDAC correlated with reduced markers of oxidative stress, suggesting that these reductions may be an early-life adaptation to mWD to mitigate excess reactive oxygen species. Altogether, mWD, independent of maternal obesity or insulin resistance, results in sustained metabolic reprogramming in offspring muscle despite a healthy diet intervention.

Article Highlights

  • In lean, active adolescent offspring, a postweaning Western-style diet (pwWD) leads to shifts in body fat distribution that are associated with poorer insulin sensitivity.

  • Fatty acid–linked oxidative metabolism was reduced in skeletal muscles from offspring exposed to maternal Western-style diet (mWD) even when weaned to a healthy control diet for years.

  • Reduced oxidative phosphorylation complex I–V and VDAC1 abundance partially explain decreased skeletal muscle respiration in mWD offspring.

  • Prior exposure to mWD results in greater fold increase with pwWD in saturated lipids and bioactive lipid molecules (i.e. ceramide and sphingomyelin) associated with insulin resistance.

This article contains supplementary material online at

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at
You do not currently have access to this content.