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Dietary protein restriction during pregnancy and lactation in rats impairs β-cell function and mass in neonates and leads to glucose intolerance in adult offspring. Maternal taurine (Tau) supplementation during pregnancy in rats restores β-cell function and mass in neonates, but its long-term effects are unclear. The prevention of postnatal catch-up growth has been suggested to improve glucose tolerance in adult offspring of low-protein (LP)-fed mothers. The objective of this study was to examine the relative contribution of β-cell dysfunction and insulin resistance to impaired glucose tolerance in 130-day-old rat offspring of LP-fed mothers and the effects of maternal Tau supplementation on β-cell function and insulin resistance in these offspring. Pregnant rats were fed i) control, ii) LP, and iii) LP+Tau diets during gestation and lactation. Offspring were given a control diet following weaning. A fourth group consisting of offspring of LP-fed mothers, maintained on a LP diet following weaning, was also studied (LP-all life). Insulin sensitivity in the offspring of LP-fed mothers was reduced in females but not in males. In both genders, LP exposure decreased β-cell function. Tau supplementation improved insulin sensitivity in females and β-cell function in males. The LP-all life diet improved β-cell function in males. We conclude that i) maternal Tau supplementation has persistent effects on improving glucose metabolism (β-cell function and insulin sensitivity) in adult rat offspring of LP-fed mothers and ii) increasing the amount of protein in the diet of offspring adapted to a LP diet after weaning may impair glucose metabolism (β-cell function) in a gender-specific manner. © 2013 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.

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