Maternal protein deprivation: Sexually dimorphic programming of hypertension in the mouse

Ravi Goyal, Lawrence D. Longo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Epidemiological data in humans and experiments in laboratory animals have demonstrated that the developmental programming of hypertension may occur as a consequence of dietary manipulations during pregnancy. Surprisingly, there is a scarcity of data regarding the development of hypertension as a consequence of a maternal low-protein diet (MLPD), particularly in the mouse. Furthermore, the role of sex in developmental programming is not well understood. We used FVB/NJ mice, because of their value in genetic/mechanistic analysis, to test the hypothesis that a MLPD during gestation leads to the sexually dimorphic developmental programming of hypertension and related disorders, such as intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. We administered iso-caloric, normal (control), moderate protein (moderate MLPD) and severe protein (severe MLPD) diets to the mice, beginning 1 week before mating and continuing until the delivery of the pups. From 4 weeks onward, using a non-invasive tail-cuff method, we measured blood pressure and other parameters in the offspring. Our results demonstrate the following: (1) MLPD caused IUGR (low birthweight) in a dose-dependent manner; (2) Female offspring developed severe hypertension, whereas males were affected only moderately; (3) The blood glucose level was elevated only in females from the moderate MLPD group, although their insulin levels remained normal; (4) Rapid catch-up growth was observed in both sexes, with moderate MLPD females and severe MLPD males becoming overweight. Notably, blood leptin levels in the control group were significantly higher in females than in male offspring and were reduced in females from the severe MLPD group. We conclude that an antenatal MLPD during gestation leads to sexually dimorphic programming in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalHypertension Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • catch-up growth
  • fetal programming
  • leptin
  • protein malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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