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Animals 2013, 3(1), 33-44; doi:10.3390/ani3010033

Variation in Protein and Calorie Consumption Following Protein Malnutrition in Rattus norvegicus

1
Division of Plastic Surgery, ML 1020, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA
2
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Johns Hopkins University, 98 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 December 2012 / Revised: 19 January 2013 / Accepted: 21 January 2013 / Published: 24 January 2013
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Simple Summary

Catch-up growth following malnutrition is likely influenced by available protein and calories. We measured calorie and protein consumption following the removal of protein malnutrition after 40, 60 and 90 days, in laboratory rats. Following the transition in diet, animals self-selected fewer calories, implying elevated protein is sufficient to fuel catch-up growth, eventually resulting in body weights and bone lengths greater or equal to those of control animals. Rats rehabilitated at younger ages, had more drastic alterations in consumption. Variable responses in different ages and sex highlight the plasticity of growth and how nutrition affects body form. This work furthers our understanding of how humans and livestock can recover from protein-restriction malnutrition, which seems to employ different biological responses.

Abstract

Catch-up growth rates, following protein malnutrition, vary with timing and duration of insult, despite unlimited access to calories. Understanding changing patterns of post-insult consumption, relative rehabilitation timing, can provide insight into the mechanisms driving those differences. We hypothesize that higher catch-up growth rates will be correlated with increased protein consumption, while calorie consumption could remain stable. As catch-up growth rates decrease with age/malnutrition duration, we predict a dose effect in protein consumption with rehabilitation timing. We measured total and protein consumption, body mass, and long bone length, following an increase of dietary protein at 40, 60 and 90 days, with two control groups (chronic reduced protein or standard protein) for 150+ days. Immediately following rehabilitation, rats’ food consumption decreased significantly, implying that elevated protein intake is sufficient to fuel catch-up growth rates that eventually result in body weights and long bone lengths greater or equal to final measures of chronically fed standard (CT) animals. The duration of protein restriction affected consumption: rats rehabilitated at younger ages had more drastic alterations in consumption of both calories and protein. While rehabilitated animals did compensate with greater protein consumption, variable responses in different ages and sex highlight the plasticity of growth and how nutrition affects body form. View Full-Text
Keywords: targeted growth; rodent ontogeny; catch-up growth targeted growth; rodent ontogeny; catch-up growth
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Jones, D.C.; German, R.Z. Variation in Protein and Calorie Consumption Following Protein Malnutrition in Rattus norvegicus. Animals 2013, 3, 33-44.

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