Gestational protein restriction causes hypertension in the adult offspring. Very little is known about the food intake regulation and ghrelin signaling in pregnant dams fed a low-protein (LP) diet. We hypothesized that diet intake and ghrelin signaling are altered in pregnant rats fed the low-protein diet. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a control (CT) or LP diet from Day 3 of pregnancy. Diet intake and body weight were monitored daily. Expression of ghrelin production-related genes in the stomach and appetite-related genes in the hypothalamus was analyzed by real-time PCR. Plasma levels of total and active ghrelin, growth hormone and leptin were measured by ELISA. Main results include: (1) Daily diet intake was greater in the LP group than in the CT group in early pregnancy, but substantially lower in late pregnancy; (2) Daily gain in body weight was substantially lower in the LP group in late pregnancy; (3) Expression of ghrelin production-related genes in the stomach and plasma total ghrelin levels were increased in LP group in late pregnancy; (4) Plasma active ghrelin levels were elevated in the LP group at mid-late pregnancy, but growth hormone and leptin levels were uncorrelated with active ghrelin in late pregnancy; and (5) Hypothalamic expression of ghrelin-stimulated genes in LP rats was unassociated with the changes in both plasma ghrelin levels and the diet intake. Taken together, the appetite in LP rats is greater in early pregnancy but reduced at late pregnancy, possibly due to ghrelin insensitivity in appetite regulation.
Gao, H., Tanchico, D. T., Yallampalli, U., Balakrishnan, M. P., & Yallampalli, C. (2015). Appetite regulation is independent of the changes in ghrelin levels in pregnant rats fed low-protein diet. Physiological Reports, 3(4). https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.12368