Table of Contents
ISRN Endocrinology
Volume 2013, Article ID 867938, 7 pages
Research Article

Placental HSD2 Expression and Activity Is Unaffected by Maternal Protein Consumption or Gender in C57BL/6 Mice

1Department of Biology, Winona State University, 234 Pasteur Hall, P.O. Box 5838, Winona, MN 55987, USA
2Department of Pediatrics, 5111 DOT, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232, USA

Received 3 April 2013; Accepted 30 April 2013

Academic Editors: J. Pachucki, H.-Q. Qu, and G. Wittmann

Copyright © 2013 Mark R. Garbrecht and Fred S. Lamb. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The placenta acts as a physiological barrier, preventing the transfer of maternal glucocorticoids to the developing fetus. This is accomplished via the oxidation, and subsequent inactivation, of endogenous glucocorticoids by the 11-β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 enzyme (HSD2). Maternal protein restriction during pregnancy has been shown to result in a decrease in placental HSD2 expression and fetal glucocorticoid overexposure, especially late in gestation, resulting in low birth weight and “fetal programming” of the offspring. This dietary intervention impairs fetal growth and cardiovascular function in adult C57BL/6 offspring, but the impact on placental HSD2 has not been defined. The goal of the current study was to examine the effects of a maternal low-protein diet (18% versus 9% protein) on placental HSD2 gene expression and enzyme activity in mice during late gestation. In contrast to previous studies in rats, a maternal low-protein diet did not affect HSD2 protein or enzyme activity levels in the placentas of C57BL/6 mice and this was irrespective of the gender of the offspring. These data suggest that the effects of maternal protein restriction on adult phenotypes in C57BL/6 mice depend upon a mechanism that may be independent of placental HSD2 or possibly occurs earlier in gestation.