Effect of Maternal Protein Restriction in Rats on Cardiac Fibrosis and Capillarization in Adulthood Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examines the effect of maternal protein restriction in rats on levels of cardiac fibrosis, myocardial capillarization, and media:lumen ratio of intramyocardial arteries in adult offspring. Female Wistar Kyoto rats were fed either a normal protein diet (NPD; 20% casein) or a low-protein diet (LPD; 8.7% casein) during pregnancy and lactation. Female offspring (seven per group) were weaned at 4 wk of age and grown to adulthood. At 24 wk of age, the offspring were perfusion fixed. Cardiac fibrosis and media:lumen ratio of intramyocardial arterioles was assessed using image analysis and cardiac capillarization was stereologically investigated. Body weights at 2 and 24 wk of age were significantly reduced (31% and 8%, respectively) in the LPD offspring; however, heart size was not different at 24 wk. Importantly by adulthood, there was a significant 15% increase in left ventricular interstitial fibrosis in LPD offspring. There were no differences in levels of perivascular fibrosis, myocardial capillarization, or in the media:lumen ratio of intramyocardial arteries between groups. Because cardiac fibrosis is associated with impaired cardiac contractility and arrhythmia, our results suggest that induction of interstitial fibrosis may contribute to the increased cardiac disease in adult subjects who were exposed to an adverse intrauterine environment.

publication date

  • July 2006