Prolonged lactation benefits offspring metabolism

Longer duration of breastfeeding is shown to have long-lasting effects in rodents, which lead to an adult phenotype that is resistant to diet-induced obesity and has increased brown adipose tissue activity through a process dependent on hypothalamic FGF21 signalling.

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METABOLIC HOMEOSTASIS

Nature Metabolism

volume 4, pages 798–799 (2022)Cite this article

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Longer duration of breastfeeding is shown to have long-lasting effects in rodents, which lead to an adult phenotype that is resistant to diet-induced obesity and has increased brown adipose tissue activity through a process dependent on hypothalamic FGF21 signalling.

Previous studies on rodents and humans have determined the role of the perinatal maternal lifestyle on programming peripheral metabolic tissues to determine the incidence of metabolic disease in offspring1,2. However, the effects of maternal lifestyle on one of the main feeding and energy regulatory organs, the hypothalamus, have typically focused on impaired maternal nutrition3. Instead, in the current issue of Nature Metabolism, Pena-Leon et al.4 show a protective role for prolonged lactation in rodent pups against high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity during adulthood via hypothalamic uptake and neural activation of enhanced hepatic fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) that leads to heightened activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT).