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Jens Randel Nyengaard

Atrophy and neuron loss: effects of a protein-deficient diet on sympathetic neurons

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  • Silvio Pires Gomes, Denmark
  • Jens Randel Nyengaard
  • Rúbia Misawa, Denmark
  • Priscila Azevedo Girotti, Denmark
  • Patrìcia Castelucci, Denmark
  • Francisco Hernandez Javier Blazquez, Denmark
  • Mariana Pereira de Melo, Denmark
  • Antonio Augusto Coppi Ribeiro, Denmark
  • Stereological Research Laboratory
Protein deficiency is one of the biggest public health problems in the world, accounting for about 30-40% of hospital admissions in developing countries. Nutritional deficiencies lead to alterations in the peripheral nervous system and in the digestive system. Most studies have focused on the effects of protein-deficient diets on the enteric neurons, but not on sympathetic ganglia, which supply extrinsic sympathetic input to the digestive system. Hence, in this study, we investigated whether a protein-restricted diet would affect the quantitative structure of rat coeliac ganglion neurons. Five male Wistar rats (undernourished group) were given a pre- and postnatal hypoproteinic diet receiving 5% casein, whereas the nourished group (n = 5) was fed with 20% casein (normoproteinic diet). Blood tests were carried out on the animals, e.g., glucose, leptin, and triglyceride plasma concentrations. The main structural findings in this study were that a protein-deficient diet (5% casein) caused coeliac ganglion (78%) and coeliac ganglion neurons (24%) to atrophy and led to neuron loss (63%). Therefore, the fall in the total number of coeliac ganglion neurons in protein-restricted rats contrasts strongly with no neuron losses previously described for the enteric neurons of animals subjected to similar protein-restriction diets. Discrepancies between our figures and the data for enteric neurons (using very similar protein-restriction protocols) may be attributable to the counting method used. In light of this, further systematic investigations comparing 2-D and 3-D quantitative methods are warranted to provide even more advanced data on the effects that a protein-deficient diet may exert on sympathetic neurons. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Pages (from-to)3568-75
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • Analysis of Variance, Animals, Animals, Newborn, Atrophy, Blood Glucose, Cell Count, Cell Size, Female, Ganglia, Sympathetic, Leptin, Male, Maternal-Fetal Exchange, Nerve Degeneration, Neurons, Organ Size, Pregnancy, Protein Deficiency, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Triglycerides

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