Reproduction (Cambridge, England)
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Epidemiological data suggest an inverse relationship between birth weight and long-term metabolic deficits, which is exacerbated by postnatal catch-up growth. We have previously demonstrated that rat offspring subject to maternal protein restriction (MPR) followed by catch-up growth exhibit impaired hepatic function and ER stress. Given that mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with various metabolic pathologies, we hypothesized that altered expression of p66Shc, a gatekeeper of oxidative stress and mitochondrial function, contributes to the hepatic defects observed in MPR offspring. To test this hypothesis, pregnant Wistar rats were fed a control (20% protein) diet or an isocaloric low protein (8%; LP) diet throughout gestation. Offspring born to control dams received a control diet in postnatal life, while MPR offspring remained on a LP diet (LP1) or received a control diet post-weaning (LP2) or at birth (LP3). At four months, LP2 offspring exhibited increased protein abundance of both p66Shc and the cis-trans isomerase Pin1. This was further associated with aberrant markers of oxidative stress (i.e., elevated 4-HNE, SOD-1 and SOD2, decreased catalase) and aerobic metabolism (i.e., increased phospho-PDH and LDHa, decreased complex II, citrate synthase and TFAM). We further demonstrated that tunicamycin-induced ER stress in HepG2 cells led to increased p66Shc protein abundance, suggesting that ER stress may underlie the programmed effects observed in vivo. In summary, because these defects are exclusive to adult LP2 offspring, it is possible that a low protein diet during perinatal life, a period of liver plasticity, followed by catch-up growth is detrimental to long-term mitochondrial function.