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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2001 Dec 20;185(1-2):81-91.

Programming of intermediary metabolism.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, University of Cambridge, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QR, UK.


Studies of animal models were carried out to explore mechanisms that might underlie epidemiological findings linking indices of poor early (fetal and early postnatal) growth to an increased risk of developing poor glucose tolerance, including the metabolic syndrome, in adult life. Adult obesity was also seen to play an important role in adding to these risks. We proposed the 'thrifty phenotype' hypothesis to provide a conceptual and mechanistic framework that could be tested by experimentation in animal models. Our main approach has been to feed a reduced protein diet to pregnant and/or lactating rat dams as a means of reducing growth in the fetal and/or preweaning stages of pup growth. Animals were weaned onto either a normal diet or an obesity-inducing highly palatable, cafeteria-style diet. Alterations in intermediary metabolism were noted in the rats with early growth restriction, which provide support for our hypothesis and clues to the mechanism.

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