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Arch Oral Biol., 2002; 47(1): 47-53, PMID: 11743931

Effect of protein-energy malnutrition in early life on the dimensions and bone quality of the adult rat mandible

Year: 2002

Alippi RM, Meta MD, Olivera MI, Bozzini C, Schneider P, Meta IF, Bozzini CE
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Odontology, University of Buenos Aires, Marcelo T de Alvear 2142, 1122, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Morphological and biomechanical features of the mandible are negatively affected by protein-energy malnutrition, whose effects are apparently dependent on the time of life of application. The aim here was to investigate, in neonatal rats nursed by dams put on a protein-free diet to depress milk production and thus create a state of protein-energy malnutrition in the offspring, subsequent growth and long-term effects by analyzing mandibular dimensions and bone quality in adulthood. Pregnant Wistar rats were fed a 20% protein diet (control) or a protein-free diet (malnourished) to obtain normal or subnormal milk production, respectively. After weaning, the offspring (males) were fed a 20% protein diet for 70 days. The dimensions of their excised mandibles were measured directly between anatomical points; the geometry and material quality of mandibular bone were assessed by peripheral quantitative computed tomography. Pups suckling from malnourished dams weighed 49.4% of those suckling from control dams at weaning; the actual difference between control and malnourished pups was 25.1g, which persisted until day 91 of age, indicating the absence of catch-up growth. As with body size, the mandibular base length, height and area (an index of mandibular size) were significantly smaller in malnourished than control rats at the end of the study. The mandibular cortical area, volumetric cortical bone mineral content and volumetric cortical bone mineral density assessed by peripheral quantitative computed tomography were similar in both groups of rats at the end of the observation period, but there was a significant reduction in the cortical axial moment of inertia in malnourished rats at this time of postnatal life. These findings suggest that catch-up growth was incomplete in rats malnourished during the suckling period and that the adaptation of mandibular bone architecture to body growth was apparently insufficient to attain normal values, thus not allowing complete compensation in mechanical competence at the end of the study because of an inadequate spatial distribution of resistive material through its cross-section rather than qualitative or quantitative impairment of cortical bone.

GID: 712; Last update: 15.01.2008