Because of the importance of excess salt intake to hypertension and the potential influence of early nutritional experience in determining long-term patterns of consumption, we wish to investigate whether perinatal salt intake produces persistent changes in salt taste preferences, body weight, and blood pressure in rats. Adult female rats will be given diets containing either low, mid, or high amount of sodium chloride during pregnancy and lactation. Their offspring will be tested during development for differences in taste preferences for salty solutions and foods, and in neural taste sensitivity. Electrophysiological responses of taste neurons to sodium and nonsodium solutions will be recorded from rats that have been raised on different salt diets, and in sodium deprived and adrenalectomized rats. Our goal is to determine the nature of taste control mechanisms of salt intake and determine whether these mechanisms underlie the long-term effects of perinatal salt intake on adult taste preferences. Another goal is to determine whether perinatal salt intake produces long-term differences in water balance. The low, mid, and high salt offspring will be tested for their capacities to regulate water balance after either central or peripheral administration of hypertonic saline or angiotensin II. A third goal is to determine whether perinatal salt intake produces long-term differences in body weight. The body weights of the adult low, mid, and high salt offspring will be measured under conditions featuring variety and palatability in the diet. A fourth goal is to determine whether perinatal salt intake influences the susceptibility to dietary-induced changes in blood pressure. The blood pressure responses of the adult low, mid, and high salt rats will be measured after being maintained on a high salt diet either by choice or by necessity. A fifth goal is to determine the relative importance of prenatal versus postnatal salt intake on taste preferences, body weights and blood pressure levels of the adult rats. A final goal is to obtain some information on the relationship between perinatal salt intake and genetic susceptibility to salt-induced hypertension. We will raise Dahl salt sensitive rats, a widely used model of experimental hypertension, on diets either low, mid, or high in salt. The adult offspring will be tested for differences in salt taste preferences, body weight, and blood pressure levels.
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