Foetal growth is particularly sensitive to the protein content of the mother's diet. Microarray data from the foetal liver of pregnant rats fed normal (HP) or reduced protein diets (LP) were compared by gene set enrichment analysis. Soluble proteins from a second portion of the liver were analysed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Genes associated with progesterone, insulin-like growth factor-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor were upregulated in HP compared to LP, in addition to genes associated with cell differentiation and signalling from the extracellular matrix. In contrast, cytokine signalling was downregulated. Proteomics showed that proteins associated with amino acid metabolism, mitochondrial function and cell motility were differentially abundant in the HP compared to the LP groups. These growth factor and extracellular matrix signalling pathways linked to cell motility may be important mediators of the changes in liver structure that occur in utero and persist into adult life.
- hepatic development
- foetal origins of disease