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J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:989037. doi: 10.1155/2012/989037. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Mitochondrial Respiration Is Decreased in Rat Kidney Following Fetal Exposure to a MaternalLow-ProteinDiet.

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  • 1Mitochondrial Research Group, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5PL, UK.


Maternal protein restriction in rat pregnancy is associated with impaired renal development and age-related loss of renal function in the resulting offspring. Pregnant rats were fed either control or low-protein (LP) diets, and kidneys from their male offspring were collected at 4, 13, or 16 weeks of age. Mitochondrial state 3 and state 4 respiratory rates were decreased by a third in the LP exposed adults. The reduction in mitochondrial function was not explained by complex IV deficiency or altered expression of the complex I subunits that are typically associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Similarly, there was no evidence that LP-exposure resulted in greater oxidative damage to the kidney, differential expression of ATP synthetase β-subunit, and ATP-ADP translocase 1. mRNA expression of uncoupling protein 2 was increased in adult rats exposed to LP in utero, but there was no evidence of differential expression at the protein level. Exposure to maternal undernutrition is associated with a decrease in mitochondrial respiration in kidneys of adult rats. In the absence of gross disturbances in respiratory chain protein expression, programming of coupling efficiency may explain the long-term impact of the maternal diet.

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