Int J Biol Sci 2007; 3(1):12-19. doi:10.7150/ijbs.3.12 This issue

Research Paper

Increased Susceptibility to Metabolic Alterations in Young Adult Females Exposed to Early Malnutrition

María del Carmen Miñana-Solis1, Carolina Escobar1 2

1. Departamento de Anatomía, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D. F. 04510
2. Dirección General de Investigación, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa Ver.

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Miñana-Solis MdC, Escobar C. Increased Susceptibility to Metabolic Alterations in Young Adult Females Exposed to Early Malnutrition. Int J Biol Sci 2007; 3(1):12-19. doi:10.7150/ijbs.3.12. Available from

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Early malnutrition during gestation and lactation modifies growth and metabolism permanently. Follow up studies using a nutritional rehabilitation protocol have reported that early malnourished rats exhibit hyperglycemia and/or hyperinsulinemia, suggesting that the effects of early malnutrition are permanent and produce a “programming” effect on metabolism. Deleterious effects have mainly been observed when early-malnutrition is followed by a high-carbohydrate or a high-fat diet.

The aim of this study was to evaluate whether following a balanced diet subsequent to malnutrition can deter the expression of metabolic disease and lead rats to exhibit metabolic responses, similar to those of well-nourished controls.

Young rats, born from dams malnourished during gestation and lactation with a low protein diet, were provided with a regular balanced chow diet upon weaning. At 90 days of age, the effects of rehabilitation were determined under three different feeding conditions: ad libitum, fasting or fasting-reefed satiated.

Early-malnourished rats showed an increased rate of body weight gain. Males under ad libitum conditions showed an elevated concentration of hepatic glycogen and low values of insulin. In the fasting-reefed satiated condition, only early-malnourished females showed an alteration in glucose response and glucagon level, compared with their well-nourished controls.

Data indicate that a balanced diet along life after early malnutrition can mask the expression of metabolic disorders and that a metabolic challenges due to a prolonged fasting and reefed state unmask metabolic deficiencies in early-malnourished females.

Keywords: nutritional rehabilitation, diabetes, metabolic programming, hormones