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      Perinatal Maternal Food Restriction Induces Alterations in Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity and in Plasma Corticosterone-Binding Globulin Capacity of Weaning Rat Pups

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          We investigated the effects of perinatal maternal malnutrition on the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity in both basal and stressful conditions in newborn rats at weaning. Mothers from the control group were fed ad libitum. Mothers exposed to food restriction received 50% (FR50) of the daily intake of pregnant dams during the last week of gestation (Pre group), lactation (Post group) or both periods (PP group) in order to compare the long-term effects of gestational and/or lactational restriction. FR50 reduced the body growth of pups from the Post and PP groups as soon as day 11 until day 21 after birth. At weaning, pups of the Post and PP groups showed reduced adrenal, thymus and liver weights. Although the plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) level was reduced in pups, FR50 affected neither corticotropin-releasing hormone expression and peptide synthesis in the hypothalamus nor proopiomelanocortin expression in the adenohypophysis. Basal circulating levels of corticosterone were not markedly affected by FR50, but free corticosterone concentration was increased in the PP group. Plasma corticosterone-binding globulin (CBG) was decreased in newborns from both the Post and PP groups. Mineralocorticoid receptor gene expression was significantly increased in both CA1 and CA3 hippocampal areas in the PP group. Glucocorticoid receptor gene expression was increased in CA1, CA2 and dentate gyrus hippocampal areas in the Pre group, as well as in CA1, CA3 and DG areas in the Post group. The ether inhalation-induced plasma ACTH increase was weaker in pups from the Post and PP groups. Similarly, the ether inhalation-induced plasma corticosterone increase returned to basal levels in the Post group, or to weaker values than baseline in the PP group 90 min after this stressful procedure. The present work suggests that maternal food restriction during the perinatal period (gestation and lactation) or during lactation only reduces the postnatal somatic growth of pups and disturbs the activity of the HPA axis at weaning under both resting and stress conditions. A reduction in the plasma CBG-binding capacity, associated with a probable increase in hippocampal corticosteroid receptors, could reinforce glucocorticoid-mediated negative feedback and shorten stress-induced activation of the HPA axis in pups at weaning.

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          Most cited references 5

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          Glucocorticoid exposure in utero: new model for adult hypertension

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            Structure of the rat pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene.

            The gene encoding pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) presents unique regulatory features. In particular, glucocorticoids inhibit transcription of the POMC gene in the anterior pituitary, but not in the intermediate pituitary. In order to study the mechanism leading to transcriptional inhibition of POMC by glucocorticoid and the interaction of the glucocorticoid receptor complex with specific DNA sequences along the POMC gene, we have cloned the rat POMC gene and determined its structure. The gene is composed of three exons and appears to be present at a single copy per haploid genome. Besides the usual regulatory signals like 'TATA' and 'CCAAT' boxes, the upstream region contains sequences homologous to known enhancer sequences and to the glucocorticoid receptor binding site observed in glucocorticoid-responsive genes.
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              Maternal corticosterone during lactation permanently affects brain corticosteroid receptors, stress response and behaviour in rat progeny


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                January 2002
                24 January 2002
                : 75
                : 1
                : 45-54
                Laboratoire de Neuroendocrinologie du Développement, UPRES-EA2701, Université de Lille 1, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France
                48220 Neuroendocrinology 2002;75:45–54
                © 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 4, References: 47, Pages: 10
                Neuroendocrine Correlations of Food Intake


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