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Physiological and Biochemical Zoology





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Maternal nutrition during pregnancy and postnatal offspring nutrition may influence offspring traits. We investigated the effects of maternal and post weaning offspring dietary nitrogen on immune function and hematology in two species of rodent: the hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus), a primarily herbivorous rodent, and the fulvous harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys fulvescens), an omnivore. These two species responded differently to the same levels of treatment, with cotton rats primarily influenced by maternal diet and harvest mice by post weaning offspring diet. Cotton rats born to mothers on high-nitrogen diets had lower values of mean corpuscle volume and hemoglobin and greater concentrations of serum immunoglobulins. Spleen size, cell-mediated immune response, and the number of splenocytes and thymic platelets were lower in cotton rats born to mothers on low- and high-nitrogen diets. High-nitrogen offspring diet increased kidney and liver mass in cotton rats. Harvest mice had increased kidney mass on high-nitrogen maternal diets; however, changes in offspring diet after weaning reduced hematological parameters in individuals fed low nitrogen diets. Body length was also affected, with harvest mice born to mothers fed low- and high-nitrogen diets having shorter lengths. Splenocyte cellular activity was greater in offspring born to mothers on high-nitrogen diets in both species.


© 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1086/590919

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