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Diabetologia. 2004 Apr;47(4):669-75.

Effect of maternal low-protein diet and taurine on the vulnerability of adult Wistar rat islets to cytokines.

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Laboratory of Cell Biology, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Biology of Development of the Endocrine Pancreas, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium.



A maternal low-protein diet has been shown to induce an increased susceptibility of fetal islets to cytokines, but this effect can be avoided by maternal taurine supplementation. Here, we question whether these effects persist until adulthood in the offspring, despite the animal having a normal diet after weaning.


Pregnant Wistar rats received a diet of either 20% or 8% protein (control [C group] and recuperated [R group] respectively), which was or was not supplemented with taurine (control treated with taurine [CT group] and recuperated treated with taurine [RT group] respectively) during gestation and lactation. When the female offspring reached adulthood, an OGTT was performed. In a second stage, islets were isolated from these offspring, then pretreated or not with taurine, and subsequently treated with cytokines.


Fasting glycaemia was higher (p<0.05) and insulinaemia was lower (p<0.01) in the R group than in the C group. Taurine supplementation decreased insulinaemia in the CT group and tended to increase it in the RT group. After the OGTT, glycaemia in R animals was not different from that in the C group, despite a blunted insulin response (p<0.05) which was restored by taurine. Supplementation in C-group mothers led to a weak glucose intolerance. In vitro, more apoptotic cells were observed in R islets after cytokines treatment (p<0.01). The addition of taurine to the culture medium in the R and C groups protected the islets from the cytokines (p<0.01). Maternal taurine supplementation decreased the sensitivity of islets in the RT group (p<0.01), but increased sensitivity in the CT group (p<0.01).


The increased vulnerability of islets to cytokines due to a restriction of protein during fetal development was still evident when the offspring reached adulthood. The low-protein diet also induced hyperglycaemia in the presence of lower insulinaemia. Taurine supplementation protected adult islets of the R group from cytokine toxicity and restored the insulinaemia. However, unnecessary supplementation of taurine could have detrimental effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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