Early undernutrition increases glycogen content and reduces the activated forms of GSK3, AMPK, p38 MAPK, and JNK in the cerebral cortex of suckling rats.
The effect of undernutrition from the 16th day of pregnancy up to 70th day of life on blood glucose and ketone bodies and on several brain mitochondrial enzymes related to energy metabolism or biosynthetic function was investigated. Undernutrition in perinatal period was established by means of a food restriction to pregnant rats and, later, to the lactating mother; undernourished postweaned rats received half the diet consumed by the controls. Body and brain weight from undernourished rats was less than controls throughout the entire period studied. Glycemia and ketonemia were also always lower than controls. Cytochrome c oxidase, citrate synthase, 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase, 3-oxoacid coenzyme A transferase, and acetoacetyl-coenzyme A thiolase activities during the suckling period were in most stages lower than controls; subsequently, activities in undernourished rats reached or surpassed the control values. These results could explain the "catch up" phenomenon in several ultrastructural parameters found by other authors in undernourished postweaned rats.