Little is known about the mechanism responsible for retarded placental and fetal growth induced by maternal dietary protein malnutrition. On the basis of the recent finding that nitric oxide (NO) and polyamines (products of L-arginine) play an important role in embryonic and placental development, the present study was designed to determine whether protein deficiency decreases placental and endometrial activities of NO synthase (NOS) and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) (the first and key regulatory enzyme in polyamine synthesis). Primiparous gilts selected genetically for low or high plasma total cholesterol concentrations (low line and high line, respectively) were mated and then fed 1.8 kg/d of isocaloric diets containing 13% or 0.5% crude protein. At d 40 or 60 of gestation, they were hysterectomized, and placenta and endometrium were obtained for incubations, NOS and ODC assays, and measurements of free amino acids and polyamines. Maternal dietary protein restriction decreased arginine and ornithine concentrations, constitutive and inducible NOS activities and NO production, as well as ODC activity and polyamine concentrations in placenta and endometrium of both lines of gilts. Placental NO synthase activity and NO generation were lower in high line gilts than in low line gilts. ODC activities and polyamine concentrations in placenta and endometrium were decreased at d 60 compared with d 40 of gestation. These changes in placental and endometrial synthesis of NO and polyamines during early gestation may be a mechanism responsible for reduced placental and fetal growth in protein- deficient gilts and for altered conceptus development in high line gilts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics