Review: Sex specific programming: a critical role for the renal renin-angiotensin system
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The “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease” hypothesis has caused resurgence of interest in understanding the factors regulating fetal development. A multitude of prenatal perturbations may contribute to the onset of diseases in adulthood including cardiovascular and renal diseases. Using animal models such as maternal glucocorticoid exposure, maternal calorie or protein restriction and uteroplacental insufficiency, studies have identified alterations in kidney development as being a common feature. The formation of a low nephron endowment may result in impaired renal function and in turn may contribute to disease. An interesting feature in many animal models of developmental programming is the disparity between males and females in the timing of onset and severity of disease outcomes. The same prenatal insult does not always affect males and females in the same way or to the same degree. Recently, our studies have focused on changes induced in the kidney of both the fetus and the offspring, following a perturbation during pregnancy. We have shown that changes in the renin–angiotensin system (RAS) occur in the kidney. The changes are often sex specific which may in part explain the observed sex differences in disease outcomes and severity. This review explores the evidence suggesting a critical role for the RAS in sex specific developmental programming of disease with particular reference to the immediate and long term changes in the local RAS within the kidney.
Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine not elsewhere classified