AccScience Publishing / GPD / Volume 1 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.36922/gpd.v1i2.169

Effects of DNA methylation and gene expression on rats with protein malnutrition in early life

Zhi Qu1 Liying Fu1,2 Chenchen Wang1 Suting Liu1 Bo Li1*
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1 Institute of Chronic Disease Risks Assessment, School of Nursing and Health, Henan University, Kaifeng, 475004, P. R. China
2 Henan Provincial People’s Hospital, Henan Provincial Eye Hospital, People’s Hospital of Zhengzhou University, People’s Hospital of Henan University, Zhengzhou, 450003, China
Submitted: 6 August 2022 | Accepted: 12 October 2022 | Published: 4 November 2022
© 2022 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( )

Although the mechanisms underlying how malnutrition in early life affects the susceptibility to diseases later in life remain unclear, there is considerable interest in the potential role of DNA methylation in the intrauterine programming of diseases. In this study, digital gene expression profiles were used to analyze changes in gene expression of protein-restricted rats early in life, while intergenerational rat models were used to explore differences in whole blood genomic DNA methylation in an environment stimulated by maternal protein intervention. Nine rats were randomly divided into early-life low-protein group (LPE), fetal low-protein group (LPF), and normal control group (CON). The LPE group was fed a low-protein diet on the 1st day of pregnancy until the end of lactation. The LPF group was given low-protein diet during pregnancy. The CON group was given a 20% protein diet from the 1st day of pregnancy. Total mRNA was extracted from the sacrificed rats at the 48th week. The number of differentially expressed genes for LPE versus CON, LPF versus CON, and LPF versus LPE was 178, 223, and 302, respectively. Comparing LPE versus CON and LPF versus CON, the upregulated genes common to the two groups were Gimap-9, Serinc-4, Dnah-2, Sf3b-5, and Sat-2, and the downregulated genes were Ppp1r-3. Comparing LPF versus CON and LPF versus LPE, the upregulated genes were Mgat2 and Cars, and the downregulated genes were Ddx28 and Slc12a9. The differentially expressed genes were mainly related to cell metabolism, immune response, signaling pathway, endocrine metabolism, stress response, ATP binding, and other functions. Early-life protein malnutrition affects gene expression of rat offspring and involves multiple aspects of growth and development, with different stages of early-life malnutrition leading to altered DNA methylation expression of corresponding genes, mainly in mitochondrial genes.

Early life
Gene expression
Genome-wide DNA methylation
Henan Science and Technology Department Key Research and Development and Promotion of Special Science and Technology Project
Science and Technology Development Plan of Henan Province in 2021

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Conflict of interest
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Gene & Protein in Disease, Electronic ISSN: 2811-003X Published by AccScience Publishing