DNA (Cell Number) and Protein in Neonatal Brain: Alteration by Maternal Dietary Protein Restriction

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Science  19 Apr 1968:
Vol. 160, Issue 3825, pp. 322-323
DOI: 10.1126/science.160.3825.322


Female rats were maintained on 8 or 27 percent protein diet by a pair-feeding schedule for 1 month before mating and throughout gestation. The brains of newborn rats from females on the 8 percent protein diet contained significantly less DNA and protein compared to the progeny of the females on the 27 percent diet. The data on DNA indicate that there are fewer cells; the protein content per cell was also lower. If, at birth, the brain cells are predominantly neurons, and their number becomes final at that time, then such dietary restriction may result in some permanent brain-neuron deficiency. This quantitative alteration in number as well as the qualitative one (protein per cell) may constitute a basis for the frequently reported impaired behavior of the offspring from protein-deprived mothers.

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