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Study shows how low-protein intake during pregnancy can cause renal problems in child

Publicado em 05 maio 2021


Brasilia [Brazil], May 6 (ANI): A study led by researchers affiliated with the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) describe the impact of hypoproteinemia (low level of protein in the blood) on the expression of microRNAs associated with kidney development in rat embryos.

Besides being underweight, babies born to women whose diet lacked sufficient protein during pregnancy tend to have kidney problems resulting from alterations that occurred while their organs were forming during the embryonic stage of their development.

In the study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers discovered the cause of the problem at the molecular level and its link to epigenetic phenomena (changes in gene expression due to environmental factors such as stress, exposure to toxins or malnutrition, among others).

According to the authors, between 10 per cent and 13 per cent of the world population suffer from chronic kidney disease, a gradual irreversible loss of renal function that is associated with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorder.

The study, conducted at the Obesity and Comorbidities Research Center (OCRC), resulted from PhD research by first author Leticia de Barros Sene with a fellowship from FAPESP.

OCRC is a Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center (RIDC) funded by FAPESP.

The researchers describe the molecular pathways involved in the proliferation and differentiation of embryonic and fetal kidney cells in the article. They obtained this knowledge by sequencing microRNAs (often called miRNAs) from the offspring of rats fed a low-protein diet while gestating. miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression.

"We know low-protein intake during pregnancy tends to lead to a 28 per cent decrease in the number of the offspring's nephrons, the structures that filter blood in the kidneys. The resulting overloading of nephrons has several consequences. In the case of rats, pups become hypertensive only ten weeks after birth, when they are still considered young," Patricia Aline Boer, a member of the OCRC team and last author of the article, told Agencia FAPESP.