Fetal programming is defined as a permanent change in the structure or function of the organism, due to alterations in development that occur in response to environmental stimuli. In this context, maternal nutrition has been shown to be important for the offspring health and studies provide evidence supporting the hypothesis that maternal nutritional status plays a crucial role in health and welfare of the fetus. Changes in maternal nutritional status may influence the mother's ability to provide to the fetus the nutrients needed for proper growth, impairing the physiological interactions between mother and conceptus. These interactions, may be mediated by hormonal signaling of LH, FSH, PRL, IGF-I , testosterone and aldosterone, which could cause epigenetic changes in regulatory genes of the target tissues. In adult animals, whose mothers experienced protein restriction, it has been observed a decrease in viability, motility and sperm concentration, as well as changes in the morphology of these gametes, parameters closely related to the epididymal function. However, there is no information in the literature to clarify how the protein restriction, at early stage of development, can affect function, development and vascular pattern of the epididymis, as well as the proteins levels associated with the maintenance of the specialized epididymal environment. Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate the pattern of histological, morphometric, immunohistochemical and molecular responses of the epididymis from Wistar rat offspring whose mothers were submitted to protein restriction during pregnancy and lactation period.
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