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Int J Exp Diabetes Res. 2001; 2(2): 139–143.
PMCID: PMC2478537

Diabetes in Old Male Offspring of Rat Dams Fed a Reduced Protein Diet


Restricted fetal growth is associated with increased risk for the future development of Type 2 diabetes in humans. The study aim was to assess the glucose tolerance of old (seventeen months) male rats, which were growth restricted in early life due to maternal protein restriction during gestation and lactation. Rat mothers were fed diets containing either 20% or 8% protein and all offspring weaned onto a standard rat diet. In old-age fasting plasma glucose concentrations were significantly higher in the low protein offspring: 8.4 (1.3)mmol/l v. 5.3 (1.3)mmol/l (p = 0.005), Areas under the curves were increased by 67% for glucose (p = 0.01) and 81% for insulin (p = 0.01) in these rats in intravenous glucose tolerance tests, suggesting (a degree of) insulin resistance. These results show that early growth retardation due to maternal protein restriction leads to the development of diabetes in old male rat offspring. The diabetes is predominantly associated with insulin resistance.

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