Maternal malnutrition does not affect fetal hepatic glycogen synthase ontogeny

Stephen D. Hsu, Robert R. Cardell, Richard L. Drake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Maternal malnutrition late in pregnancy results in the reduced storage of fetal hepatic glycogen in the final days of gestation and an accentuation of normal birth-related hypoglycemia. It was of interest to determine whether or not low glycogen levels resulted when maternal malnutrition disrupted the normal ontogeny of fetal hepatic glycogen synthase, an important glycogenic enzyme. A defect in this enzyme would be expected to seriously affect prenatal and postnatal glycogen synthesis. For this study, livers were removed from fetuses from malnourished (50% of normal dietary intake) mice, as well as from ad libitum-fed mice, and used for the determination of hepatic glycogen, glycogen synthase activity, and glycogen synthase protein levels. In this paper we report that maternal dietary restriction late in pregnancy produces growth-retarded fetuses with severely reduced hepatic glycogen levels, but the normal ontogenic changes in the quantity and activity of hepatic glycogen synthase were not affected. It is especially significant that the accumulation of glycogen synthase occurred despite the minimal level of natural substrate available for the enzyme. These results suggest that the accumulation and activity of hepatic glycogen synthase during late gestation is related to developmental events rather than levels of substrate or glycogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1500-1504
Number of pages5
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • fetal mice
  • hepatic glycogen synthase
  • maternal malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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