Washington: Earlier studies have shown that the offspring of mothers on a low-protein diet are more likely to develop hypertension as adults - now scientists know how.In a study in rats, Drs. Gao, Yallampalli, and Yallampalli of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, found that the high maternal testosterone levels associated with a low-protein diet are caused by reduced activity of an enzyme that inactivates testosterone, allowing more testosterone to reach the foetus and increase the offspring’s susceptibility to adulthood hypertension.Fetal programming is a term used to describe the impact of maternal stress on an unborn child’s physical characteristics at birth, as well as its long-term health. The placenta is thought to be a major contributor to fetal programming due to its critical roles in hormone production and nutrient transport, as well as its susceptibility to environmental disruptions.Recently, a study found that protein restriction doubles the plasma testosterone levels in pregnant rats. Elevated testosterone levels are associated with pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia and polycystic ovarian syndrome in humans, and emerging evidence suggests that testosterone may play a role in fetal programming of hypertension.
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