Metabolomics Reveals Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation Induces Liver and Mammary Gland Metabolic Dysfunction in Lactating Mice

Kerry R. Belton, Yuan Tian, Limin Zhang, Mallappa Anitha, Philip B. Smith, Gary H. Perdew, Andrew D. Patterson

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The liver and the mammary gland have complementary metabolic roles during lactation. Substrates synthesized by the liver are released into the circulation and are taken up by the mammary gland for milk production. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) has been identified as a lactation regulator in mice, and its activation has been associated with myriad morphological, molecular, and functional defects such as stunted gland development, decreased milk production, and changes in gene expression. In this study, we identified adverse metabolic changes in the lactation network (mammary, liver, and serum) associated with AHR activation using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomics. Pregnant mice expressing Ahrd (low affinity) or Ahrb (high affinity) were fed diets containing beta naphthoflavone (BNF), a potent AHR agonist. Mammary, serum, and liver metabolomics analysis identified significant changes in lipid and TCA cycle intermediates in the Ahrb mice. We observed decreased amino acid and glucose levels in the mammary gland extracts of Ahrb mice fed BNF. The serum of BNF fed Ahrb mice had significant changes in LDL/VLDL (increased) and HDL, PC, and GPC (decreased). Quantitative PCR analysis revealed ∼50% reduction in the expression of key lactogenesis mammary genes including whey acid protein, α-lactalbumin, and β-casein. We also observed morphologic and developmental disruptions in the mammary gland that are consistent with previous reports. Our observations support that AHR activity contributes to metabolism regulation in the lactation network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1375-1382
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 6 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)

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