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Br J Nutr. 2012 Feb;107(3):372-7. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511002947. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

Maternal low-protein diet-induced delayed reflex ontogeny is attenuated by moderate physical training during gestation in rats.

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Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Pernambuco, Rua Prof. Moraes Rego 1235, Recife, PE, Brazil.


We evaluated the effects of moderate- to low-intensity physical training during gestation on reflex ontogeny in neonate rats whose mothers were undernourished. Virgin female Wistar rats were divided into four groups as follows: untrained (NT, n 7); trained (T, n 7); untrained with a low-protein diet (NT+LP, n 7); trained with a low-protein diet (T+LP, n 4). Trained rats were subjected to a protocol of moderate physical training on a treadmill over a period of 4 weeks (5 d/week and 60 min/d, at 65 % of VO₂max). After confirming the pregnancy, the intensity and duration of the exercise were reduced. Low-protein groups were provided with an 8 % casein diet, and controls were provided with a 17 % casein diet. Their respective offspring were evaluated (during the 10th-17th days of postnatal life) in terms of physical feature maturation, somatic growth and reflex ontogeny. Pups born to mothers provided with the low-protein diet during gestation and lactation showed delayed physical feature and reflex maturation and a deficit in somatic growth when compared with controls. However, most of these deficiencies were attenuated in pups of undernourished mothers undergoing training. In conclusion, physical training during gestation attenuates the effects of perinatal undernutrition on some patterns of maturation in the central nervous system during development.

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