Although it is well-accepted that size at birth is inversely related to adult blood pressure and cardiovascular risk in humans, the majority of information available with regard to maternal nutrition, prenatal growth, and subsequent renal disease comes from animal models. Restriction of food or protein during specific windows of pregnancy leads to hypertension in adult offspring. Depending on the degree of maternal restriction, nephron number and renal function in the offspring may be reduced, and proteinuria and histological signs of renal disease are present. All of these abnormalities appear to worsen with age. Female gender is relatively protective against these prenatal insults, but with more severe maternal dietary restriction female offspring are also affected. In addition to macronutrients, roles for several micronutrients have been identified in fetal programming for hypertension and renal disease. Ongoing investigations into the roles of sex hormones, the renin-angiotensin system, and vitamin A in these developmental processes may lead to strategies for prevention of dietary programming for hypertension and renal disease in humans.
Keywords: Protein restriction, global food restriction, fetal programming, renal disease, nephron number, hypertension
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