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Pediatr Res. 1982 Jun;16(6):470-3.

Effect of early weaning and prolonged nursing on development of the rat pancreas.


Pancreatic development was studied in rats 17-28 days of age. Control pups, weaned naturally at 21-24 days showed a gradual increase in body weight, pancreatic weight, total DNA and protein content with age. Pups weaned at 17 days showed a transient increase in pancreatic weight and protein content only at day 22; at no time did they show a difference in either DNA content or body weight. Pups nursed up to 25 days of age had a smaller body weight, but had DNA and protein content similar to control rats. Control pups showed gradual increases in lipase and trypsinogen with a sharp increase in amylase between days 22 and 25. Pups weaned at 17 days showed a precocious increase in trypsinogen and a sharp increase in amylase between days 19-22, but an immediate decrease in lipase which eventually returned to the control level at day 28. Pups nursed beyond the weaning stage showed an increase in lipase and trypsinogen but no sharp increase in amylase. A significant increase in all pancreatic enzymes, pancreatic mass, pancreatic DNA and protein content was seen in all groups of rats irrespective of their diet. The results suggest an inherent biological program as a basic control of pancreatic ontogeny with diet playing a modifying role.

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