The consequences of maternal vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy on offspring metabolic phenotype and adipose tissue physiology
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Vitamin D (VD) deficiency is a significant global public health concern, with particular groups, such as pregnant women, at greater risk of deficiency. While we have long known that VD deficient individuals have elevated risk for a multitude of adverse health effects, there is now ample evidence that the offspring of mothers who are vitamin D during pregnancy may also be adversely affected, experiencing health complications throughout their lifespan. However, little is known about the specific effects of VD deficiency that lead to these health complications. The purpose of the studies contained within this dissertation were to determine how maternal VD deficiency during pregnancy affected fetal development and susceptibility to metabolic disease later in life. The data presented herein add to the current evidence that maternal VD deficiency can have long lasting effects on offspring health. Specifically, we saw that offspring of VD deficient mothers experienced fetal growth restriction and rapid weight gain early in life. We also determined that offspring of VD deficient mothers experienced more metabolically unfavorable fat distribution, changes in fat cell physiology, and liver enlargement as adults. Moreover, we provided evidence that these adverse metabolic effects were driven by changes in key "fat genes". Together, our findings provide evidence that vitamin D plays an essential role in proper fetal development and highlight the need to address the current VD deficiency epidemic in pregnant women.