Fetal growth, glucose tolerance and plasma insulin concentration in rats given a marginal-zinc diet in the latter stages of pregnancy

S Southon, S J Fairweather-Tait, C M Williams

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1. Wistar rats were fed on a control semi-synthetic diet throughout pregnancy, or a control diet in the first 2 weeks and a marginal-zinc diet in the 3rd week of pregnancy. On day 20, after an overnight fast, half the animals in each group were given glucose by gavage and the 0-30 min rise in blood glucose measured in tail blood. After 60 min blood was taken by cardiac puncture for glucose and insulin assay. Maternal pancreases were removed and the Zn contents measured. Fetuses from each litter were combined for wet/dry weights, protein and DNA determinations. 2. Plasma insulin concentration was higher, and glucose concentration and pancreatic Zn content lower, in pregnant v. non-pregnant animals of similar age, fed on the same diet. Pancreatic Zn content was lowest in the marginal-Zn group of pregnant rats. Fetuses from mothers fed on the marginal-Zn diet during the last week of pregnancy were slightly heavier than controls and had a significantly higher protein: DNA ratio. The 0-30 min rise in blood glucose was significantly greater in the marginal-Zn animals. 3. In a second experiment, pregnant rats were given similar diets to those used in the first study, but the marginal-Zn diet was given for a shorter period (days 15-19 of pregnancy). On day 19 the rats were meal-fed and on day 20, after an overnight fast, an oral glucose dose was administered. Tail-blood was taken at timed intervals up to 60 min post-dosing for glucose assay.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-22
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1988


  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose
  • Diet
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Insulin
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Zinc

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