Dietary protein source contributes to the risk of developing maternal syndrome in the Dahl salt-sensitive rat

John Henry Dasinger, Justine M. Abais-Battad, John D. Bukowy, Hayley Lund, Ammar J. Alsheikh, Daniel J. Fehrenbach, Jeylan Zemaj, David L. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Preeclampsia (PE) is a disorder of pregnancy, which is categorized by hypertension and proteinuria or signs of end-organ damage. Though PE is the leading cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality, the mechanisms leading to PE remain unclear. The present study examined the contribution of dietary protein source (casein versus wheat gluten) to the risk of developing maternal syndrome utilizing two colonies of Dahl salt-sensitive (SS/JrHsdMcwi) rats. While the only difference between the colonies is the diet, the colonies exhibit profound differences in the pregnancy phenotypes. The SS rats maintained on the wheat gluten (SSWG) chow are protected from developing maternal syndrome; however, approximately half of the SS rats fed a casein-based diet (SSC) exhibit maternal syndrome. Those SSC rats that develop pregnancy-specific increases in blood pressure and proteinuria have no observable differences in renal or placental immune profiles compared to the protected SS rats. A gene profile array of placental tissue revealed a downregulation in Nos3 and Cyp26a1 in the SSC rats that develop maternal syndrome accompanied with increases in uterine artery resistance index suggesting the source of this phenotype could be linked to inadequate remodeling within the placenta. Investigations into the effects of multiple pregnancies on maternal health replicated similar findings. The SSC colony displayed an exacerbation in proteinuria, renal hypertrophy and renal immune cell infiltration associated with an increased mortality rate while the SSWG colony were protected highlighting how dietary protein source could have beneficial effects in PE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalPregnancy Hypertension
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Dietary protein
  • Hypertension
  • Pregnancy
  • Renal damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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