The effects of maternal dietary protein restriction during gestation in rats on postnatal growth of the body and internal organs of the offspring
Effects of maternal dietary protein restriction during gestation on postnatal growth of the body and internal organs of the offspring were investigated using 32 pregnant rats randomly assigned to two groups (A and B). Pregnant rats in group A (control group) and group B (treatment group) received experimental diets containing 18 % and 8 % crude protein respectively, throughout the gestation period. Growth of the body and internal organs of the offspring of these rats was studied at various postnatal periods. The results showed that at the adult age of 84 days, the body weight and relative weights of the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys and testes were significantly (p<0.05) lower in rats in treatment B than the control. Histological findings revealed that the testes and kidneys were most adversely affected by prenatal protein restriction. Spermatids and spermatogenic cells were scanty in the seminiferous epithelium, while the renal cortex showed distorted and irregularly shaped renal corpuscles and shrunken glomeruli. These results suggest that maternal dietary protein restriction during pregnancy produced longterm adverse effects on postnatal growth and development of the body and internal organs of the offspring. This supports the idea that postnatal growth of adult structures may be ‘programmed’ during the foetal stages of development.
Keywords: Gestation in rats, Protein restriction, Postnatal growth, Foetal programming, Internal organs