Lack of evidence for a role for either the in utero or suckling periods in the exaggerated salt preference of the spontaneously hypertensive rat.

Research paper by Robert R Di Nicolantonio, Kerryn T KT Westcott, Kathy K Koutsis, Mary E ME Wlodek

Indexed on: 12 Oct '05Published on: 12 Oct '05Published in: Physiology & Behavior


When offered as a choice with drinking water in two-bottle preference tests, the spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) of the Okamoto strain exhibit a marked preference for saline solutions. While this behaviour is thought to be in part genetically determined, the role of environmental influences-in particular, perinatal ones-are poorly understood. In this study, we have used combined embryo transfer and cross-fostering techniques between SHR and normotensive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats to delineate the relative roles of the prenatal and postnatal, suckling environment on the exaggerated saline preference of male SHR and WKY offspring at 20 weeks of age. We found, using two-bottle preference tests using water and 140 mmol/l sodium chloride solution, that neither the in utero period nor the postnatal, suckling period played a role in the development of the much larger total fluid intake (water plus saline) or saline preference (proportion of the total fluid intake taken as saline) of the SHR. We thus conclude that maternal and perinatal environmental factors do not play a major role in this behaviour and that the exaggerated saline preference of the SHR is probably largely genetically determined.