Feeding pregnant ewes a high-salt diet or saltbush suppresses their offspring's postnatal renin activity

Megan Chadwick, Ian Williams, Phil Vercoe, Dean Revell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    If ewes consumed a high-salt diet or saltbush during the last 3 months of pregnancy and for 3 weeks after birth, we expected the renin activity of their lamb to be suppressed at birth and at 3 weeks of age. We also expected an increase in the concentration of cations other than sodium in the ewe’s milk and an increase in the plasma Na concentration of the lamb at birth. To test these hypotheses, Merino ewes were fed a high-salt diet (14% NaCl) in an animal house and compared to control ewes eating a control diet (2% NaCl). In addition, we compared ewes grazing saltbush (about 13% salt in diet) to ewes grazing pasture from day 60 of pregnancy to 3 weeks after birth. Lambs born to ewes consuming saltbush had 85% lower (P <0.001) renin activity than offspring from ewes consuming pasture at 3 weeks of age. Similarly, lambs born to ewes consuming a high-salt diet had 20% lower renin activity at birth and 3 weeks (P = 0.07). Feeding ewes a high-salt diet or saltbush altered the mineral composition of the milk; the largest change was a 10% increase in K levels (P 0.05). Consuming a high-salt diet or saltbush lowered the plasma Na of ewes at 130 days of gestation (by 3–5 mmol/l; P <0.001), but only lambs from ewes fed the high-salt diet had a lower plasma Na at birth (P <0.05). Suppression of the renin activity of lambs could lead to permanent physiological changes in salt balance in later life.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)972-979
    JournalAnimal
    Volume3
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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