High-sucrose-induced maternal obesity disrupts ovarian function and decreases fertility in Drosophila melanogaster

Rita T. Brookheart, Alison R. Swearingen, Christina A. Collins, Laura M. Cline, Jennifer G. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


As the obesity epidemic worsens, the prevalence of maternal obesity is expected to rise. Both high-fat and high-sucrose diets are known to promote maternal obesity and several studies have elucidated the molecular influence of high-fat feeding on female reproduction. However, to date, the molecular impact of a high-sucrose diet on maternal obesity remains to be investigated. Using our previously reported Drosophila high-sucrose maternal obesity model, we sought to determine how excess dietary sucrose impacted the ovary. High-sucrose diet (HSD) fed adult females developed systemic insulin resistance and exhibited an ovarian phenotype characterized by excess accumulation of lipids and cholesterol in the ovary, decreased ovary size, and impaired egg maturation. We also observed decreased expression of antioxidant genes and increased protein carbonylation in the ovaries of HSD females. HSD females laid fewer eggs; however, the overall survival of offspring was unchanged relative to lean control females. Ovaries of HSD females had increased mitochondrial DNA copy number and decreased expression of key mitochondrial regulators, suggestive of an ineffective compensatory response to mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondrial alterations were also observed in male offspring of obese females. This study demonstrates that high-sucrose-induced maternal obesity promotes insulin resistance, while disrupting ovarian metabolism and function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1255-1263
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Drosophila
  • Mitochondria
  • Nutritional programming
  • Obesity
  • Ovary
  • Pregnancy


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