Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2007
1. To study the efficiency of rehabilitation after different periods of protein–energy malnutrition, we used as a model preweaning malnourished rats. After weaning, male Wistar rats were fed on a protein-deficient diet (50 g casein/kg) ad lib. for the whole study (DR group) or rehabilitated with normal diet (180 g casein/kg; RR group) from weaning, week 0, or weeks 1, 3, 5, 8 and 16 thereafter.
2. Twelve animals from the DR group were killed at the beginning of each rehabilitation period. The twelve rehabilitated rats were killed after 2 weeks. Body-weight and epididymal adipose tissue weight, blood glucose, plasma immunoreactive insulin (IRI) and immunoreactive glucagon (IRG), and pancreatic contents of IRI and IRG were determined.
3. Food intake of RR rats rose significantly except during the last period where body-weight increased less than that during the previous periods. Fat-pad weights increased in the same manner in DR and RR groups.
4. Blood glucose fell and plasma IRG rose significantly without any change in plasma IRI after each rehabilitation period, except during the last period where blood glucose concentrations became stable. Pancreatic IRG and IRI showed the same type of response to those of the plasma.
5. All short-term rehabilitation periods were similarly efficient at producing catch-up growth. High insulin sensitivity of target cells was responsible for good recovery except after long-term malnutrition.
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