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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 May;292(5):R1768-74. Epub 2007 Feb 1.

Effects of dietary protein restriction on nephron number in the mouse.

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Dept of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash Univ, Victoria, Australia.


In rats, maternal protein restriction reduces nephron endowment and often leads to adult hypertension. Sex differences in these responses have been identified. The molecular and genetic bases of these phenomena can best be identified in a mouse model, but effects of maternal protein restriction on kidney development have not been examined in mice. Therefore, we determined how combined prenatal and postnatal protein restriction in mice affects organ weight, glomerular number and dimensions, and renal expression of angiotensin receptor mRNA, in both male and female offspring. C57/BL6/129sv mice received either a normal (20% wt/wt; NP) or low (9% wt/wt; LP) protein diet during gestation and postnatal life. Offspring were examined at postnatal day 30. Protein restriction retarded growth of the kidney, liver, spleen, heart, and brain. All organs except the brain weighed less in female than male offspring. Protein restriction increased normalized (to body weight) brain weight, with females having relatively heavier brains than males. The effects of protein restriction were not sex dependent, except that normalized liver weight was reduced in males but increased in females. Glomerular volume, but not number, was greater in female than in male mice. Maternal protein restriction reduced nephron endowment similarly in male and female mice. Renal expression of AT(1A) receptor mRNA was approximately sixfold greater in female than male NP mice, but similar in male LP and female LP mice. We conclude that maternal protein restriction reduces nephron endowment in mice. This effect provides a basis for future studies of developmental programming in the mouse.

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