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S. Roy, J. Tonkiss; Prenatal Malnourishment Accelerates the Development of Acellular Capillaries and Pericyte Loss in Rat Retinas. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):4966.
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To determine whether prenatal malnourishment accelerates retinal vascular damage during aging. In particular, the study addresses whether histological changes associated with diabetic retinopathy are present in retinas of prenatally-malnourished rats.
Female Long Evans rats were maintained on a low protein diet (6% casein; Harlan Teklad) from 5 weeks prior to, and during their entire pregnancy such that the pups born to these rats were prenatally, protein malnourished. Immediately after birth, the pups were cross-fostered to well-nourished rats fed a 25% casein diet. After weaning (at 21 days) these rats were maintained on a regular laboratory chow diet until they were killed at 21 months of age. Two well-nourished control groups were used. Both consisted of pups born to rats fed a 25% casein diet 5 weeks prior to and during pregnancy and these rats were also maintained on regular chow diet following weaning. One group of controls was killed at 14 months (young-control), and the second was killed at 21 months of age (aged-control). On the day of euthanasia, the body weight and body length were measured to determine the body mass index. After death, both eyes were enucleated, and retinal trypsin digests were prepared and the resulting isolated vasculatures were stained with Hematoxylin and Periodic Acid Schiff’s reagent. To determine the number of pericyte loss and acellular capillaries, images were photographed and acellular capillaries and cell counts performed in the three groups: aged-malnourished, aged-control, and young-control.
The number of acellular capillaries and pericyte loss was increased in the aged-malnourished rat retinas compared to those in aged-control rats, which, in turn, was increased compared to those in young-control rats. The number of acellular capillaries and pericyte loss were increased by 23.5% and 21% (p<0.05) in the aged malnourished retinas compared to the control aged rats, and by 10% and 9% (not significant) compared to those in the young-14 month rats.
Results indicate that malnourishment during prenatal development can influence later development of lesions characteristic to diabetic retinopathy.
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