Regulation of hepatic enzymes and insulin levels in offspring of rat dams fed a reduced-protein diet.Am J Physiol 1997; 273(4):G899-904AJ
We have hypothesized that permanent changes caused by poor growth during early development due to maternal malnutrition may be exacerbated by overnutrition of offspring in later life. To test this hypothesis, rats were exposed to a maternal 20% protein diet or an isocaloric 8% protein diet during fetal and postnatal life. All offspring were weaned onto laboratory chow. At 6 wk, rats were fed laboratory chow or a highly palatable diet (high fat and high calorie with adequate protein) and studied at 12 wk after a 48-h fast. The highly palatable diet resulted in excess weight gain and higher plasma insulin levels in all animals. Plasma insulin concentrations were significantly increased in male offspring of dams fed a reduced-protein diet compared with male offspring of dams fed an adequate-protein diet, but no differences were observed between the female offspring. The key hepatic enzymes of glucose homeostasis programmed in offspring of protein-restricted rat dams retained the ability to respond to overnutrition during adult life. In these offspring, however, the enzymes were regulated around a "set point" that was different from that in the controls.