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Pediatr Res. 2010 Jul;68(1):16-22. doi: 10.1203/00006450-201011001-00026.

The effects of low protein during gestation on mouse pancreatic development and beta cell regeneration.

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Lawson Health Research Institute, St. Joseph's Health Care, London, Ontario N6A 4V2, Canada.


Beta cells are partially replaced in neonatal rodents after deletion with streptozotocin (STZ). Exposure of pregnant rats to a low protein (LP) diet impairs endocrine pancreas development in the offspring, leading to glucose intolerance in adulthood. Our objective was to determine whether protein restriction has a similar effect on the offspring in mice, and if this alters the capacity for beta cell regeneration after STZ. Pregnant Balb/c mice were fed a control (C) (20% protein) or an isocaloric LP (8% protein) diet during gestation. Pups were given 35 mg/kg STZ (or vehicle) from d 1 to 5 for each dietary treatment. Histologic analysis showed that C-fed offspring had largely replaced beta cell mass (BCM) after STZ by d 30, but this was not sustained over time. Female LP-fed offspring showed an initial increase in BCM by d 14 but developed glucose intolerance by d 130. In contrast, male LP offspring showed no changes in BCM or glucose tolerance. However, LP exposure limited the capacity for recovery of BCM in both genders after STZ treatment.

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