Physiol. Res. 49: 721-724, 2000


Influence of Intrauterine Undernutrition on the Development of Hypercholesterolemia in an Animal Model


1Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Cardiac Centre, Laboratory for Atherosclerosis Research and 2First Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Motol, Second Medical School, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Received May 26, 2000
Accepted October 26, 2000

A low birth weight is a new risk factor for the development of premature atherosclerosis. The effect of intrauterine undernutrition on hypercholesterolemia in later life was studied in an experimental model using the Prague Hereditary Hypercholesterolemic (PHHC) rat. Compared to animals in the control group (Wistar rats), animals with an increased sensitivity to high-cholesterol diet (PHHC rats) display hypercholesterolemia. Only in PHHC animals, individuals undernourished in their intrauterine life (hypotrophic group, HG) had a significantly higher total cholesterol, compared with individuals without food restriction in pregnancy (eutrophic group, EG). Restricted food intake in pregnancy led to smaller nests and a decreased number of pups in each litter. We found no significant diferences in birth weight between HG and EG. In spite of similar birth weights in PHHC and Wistar rats, intrauterine undernutrition caused an increase in cholesterolemia in the HG group of the PHHC rats. The effect of intrauterine undernutrition on the development of hypercholesterolemia will most likely play a role in individuals with geneticaly determined increased susceptibility to a high-cholesterol diet. The use of this model of intrauterine undernutrition for the study of hypercholesterolemia has proved to be feasible.

Key words
Rat · Intrauterine undernutrition · Hypercholesterolemia

Reprint requests
P. Szitányi, MD, PhD, First Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital Motol, Second Medical School, Charles University, V úvalu 84, 150 06 Prague 5, Czech Republic. e-mail:,

© 2000 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences