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Effects of protein restriction in utero on the metabolism of mink dams (<i>Neovison vison</i>) and on mink kit survival as well as on postnatal growth

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Author(s): Connie Frank Matthiesen | Anne-Helene Tauson | Kristine Vesterdorf | Adrian Harrison

Journal: Advances in Molecular Imaging
ISSN 2161-6728

Volume: 02;
Issue: 01;
Start page: 19;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Intrauterine Metabolic Programming | Nitrogen Metabolism | Reproduction Performance | Growth Rate | Postnatal Development | Organ Development

ABSTRACT
Protein restriction in utero may give rise to restricted growth as well as induce metabolically related diseases. In order to determine the suitability of mink as an animal model for metabolism studies, the effects of protein restriction during gestation on dam and kit performance must first be determined. Mink dams were fed an adequate protein (AP; crude protein:fat:carbohydrate ratio of 31:55:14% of metabolizable energy, ME) or a low protein diet (LP; 19%:49%: 32% of ME) during the last 21.2 ± 3.3 days of gestation, followed by an adequate diet during lactation. Respiration and balance experiments were performed during late gestation and twice during lactation. The dietary treatment only affected energy metabolism traits significantly during the treatment period in late gestation, such that LP dams oxidized less protein (12% vs 23% of heat production, HE, P = 0.001) but more carbohydrate (37% vs 26% of HE, P < 0.05), and retained less nitrogen (0.3 vs 0.4 g.kg-0.75.day-1, P < 0.05) than AP dams. Reproductive performance and kit organ growth were not affected by diet. Kit losses up to weaning were higher in LP than AP dams (2.0 vs 1.4, P < 0.05). LP fetuses weighed less (8.3 vs 11.6 g, P < 0.001) and were shorter (6.2 vs 7.6 cm, P < 0.001) than AP fetuses, however, differences might have been due to different implantation times. LP kits weighed 8.5% less than AP kits at birth, and remained lighter until 21 days of age. The LP diet caused growth restriction and increased kit mortality indicating that the dietary protein supply during late gestation was suboptimal to re-quirements. The long-term consequences of protein restriction in utero in terms of permanent metabolic changes in adulthood now need to be investigated.

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