Impact of maternal undernutrition on hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and adipocyte functions in male rat offspring
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Malnutrition induces profound deleterious effects on several metabolic and neuroendocrine functions. In the present study, we examined the impact of maternal food restriction, during gestation and lactation, on the metabolic-neuroendocrine function of their male offspring at 21 and 60 d of age. Well-nourished (WN) and undernourished (UN) pregnant rats were used, during gestation and lactation, until pups were weaned. Twenty-one-day-old WN and UN male pups were studied in basal and postinsulin conditions. Additional groups of weaned (WN and UN) male rats were fed either ad libitum (WN-WN and UN-WN) or in a restricted fashion (WN-UN and UN-UN) until experimentation at age 60 d. Body weights of mothers and their male offspring were monitored. Basal and post-insulin plasma concentrations of several metabolic fuels were evaluated. Our results indicate that 21-d-old UN male rats exhibited (vs their WN counterparts), decreased body weights, similar basal and postinsulin glycemia, similar basal plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and corticosterone levels but diminished ACTH response to insulin treatment, and basal hypoleptinemia and significant insulin-induced leptin release. Finally, at 60 d of age, long-term UN (WN-UN and UN-UN) rats showed lower plasma (basal and postinsulin) glucose, and basal triglyceride levels than their counterparts (WN-WN and UN-WN). Sixty-day-old rats submitted to either food restriction protocol also showed a reduced hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenalaxis response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia and basal hypoleptinemia, in spite of restoration of normal body weights. These results further indicate a clear metabolic-neuroendocrine dysfunction in male pups of UN mothers, with the abnormality partially present at weaning and deteriorated by adulthood, even after the recovery of normal body weight. Our study strongly supports the importance of the irreversibility of a deleterious allostatic state resulting from fetal and early postnatal undernutrition.
Key WordsAdrenocorticotropic hormone glucocorticoid carbohydrate leptin foodrestriction
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