Several studies have indicated the influence of a maternal low protein diet on the fetus. However, the effect of a maternal low quality protein diet on fetal growth and development is largely unknown. Wistar rats (11 weeks old) were mated and maintained on either a chow diet with 20% casein (n
= 6) as the control group (C), or a low quality protein diet with 20% wheat gluten (n
= 7) as the experimental group (WG) through gestation and lactation. Maternal body weights were similar in both groups throughout the study. Birth weights were not influenced by maternal diet and offspring body weights during lactation were similar between the groups. Offspring’s plasma amino acid profiles showed that plasma methionine, glutamine and lysine were significantly lower and aspartic acid, ornithine and glycine-proline were significantly higher in the WG. Plant based protein comprises an important part of protein intake in developing countries. It is well-known that these diets can be inadequate in terms of essential amino acids. The current study shows differential effects of a maternal low quality protein diet on the offspring’s plasma amino acids. Future studies will examine further aspects of the influence of maternal low quality protein diets on fetal growth and development.
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