British Journal of Nutrition vol:81 issue:1 pages:73-9
Food restriction during pregnancy in rats induces intrauterine growth retardation with consequences persisting into adulthood. In the present study we have investigated the hypothesis that malnutrition in pregnant rats may lead to altered cardiovascular function in adult female offspring. Perinatal growth retardation was induced by a 50% reduction of normal dietary intake in rats during the second half of pregnancy. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure values and heart rate were recorded in conscious female offspring (100 d old) using a femoral artery probe. No significant differences in heart rate, or in systolic and diastolic blood pressures were recorded between control offspring and offspring of nutritionally deprived rats. In order to ascertain whether cardiovascular variables in the offspring were influenced by lactation, subgroups of offspring from food-restricted dams were fostered with lactating dams fed on a normal diet. Blood pressure and heart rate were also found to be normal in these offspring. The rise in blood pressure associated with NO inhibition was similar in all groups. Isolated resistance artery function was assessed in vitro in offspring (100-120 d old) of a second group of semi-starved dams. Small mesenteric arteries from these animals showed reduced endothelium-dependent relaxation (to acetylcholine and bradykinin), but enhanced sensitivity to exogenous NO (sodium nitroprusside). We conclude that food restriction during the second half of pregnancy and/or lactation does not induce hypertension in adult offspring, but may effect subtle changes in vascular function.