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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Metabolic Programming during Lactation Stimulates Renal Na+ Transport in the Adult Offspring Due to an Early Impact on Local Angiotensin II Pathways
Published: Friday, July 01, 2011
Author: Ricardo Luzardo et al.

by Ricardo Luzardo, Paulo A. Silva, Marcelo Einicker-Lamas, Susana Ortiz-Costa, Maria da Graça Tavares do Carmo, Leucio D. Vieira-Filho, Ana D. O. Paixão, Lucienne S. Lara, Adalberto Vieyra


Several studies have correlated perinatal malnutrition with diseases in adulthood, giving support to the programming hypothesis. In this study, the effects of maternal undernutrition during lactation on renal Na+-transporters and on the local angiotensin II (Ang II) signaling cascade in rats were investigated.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Female rats received a hypoproteic diet (8% protein) throughout lactation. Control and programmed offspring consumed a diet containing 20% protein after weaning. Programming caused a decrease in the number of nephrons (35%), in the area of the Bowman's capsule (30%) and the capillary tuft (30%), and increased collagen deposition in the cortex and medulla (by 175% and 700%, respectively). In programmed rats the expression of (Na++K+)ATPase in proximal tubules increased by 40%, but its activity was doubled owing to a threefold increase in affinity for K+. Programming doubled the ouabain-insensitive Na+-ATPase activity with loss of its physiological response to Ang II, increased the expression of AT1 and decreased the expression of AT2 receptors), and caused a pronounced inhibition (90%) of protein kinase C activity with decrease in the expression of the a (24%) and e (13%) isoforms. Activity and expression of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase decreased in the same proportion as the AT2 receptors (30%). In vivo studies at 60 days revealed an increased glomerular filtration rate (GFR) (70%), increased Na+ excretion (80%) and intense proteinuria (increase of 400% in protein excretion). Programmed rats, which had normal arterial pressure at 60 days, became hypertensive by 150 days.


Maternal protein restriction during lactation results in alterations in GFR, renal Na+ handling and in components of the Ang II-linked regulatory pathway of renal Na+ reabsorption. At the molecular level, they provide a framework for understanding how metabolic programming of renal mechanisms contributes to the onset of hypertension in adulthood.