To study the effect of diabetes on hepatic protein synthesis and polysomal aggregation in pregnant rats, female rats were treated with streptozotocin prior to conception. Some animals were mated, and studied at day 20 of pregnancy, whereas, others were studied in parallel under non pregnant conditions. The protein synthesis rate measured with an “in vitro” cell-free system was higher in pregnant than in virgin control rats. It decreased with diabetes in both groups, although values remained higher in diabetic pregnant rats than in the virgin animals. The fetuses of diabetic rats had a lower protein synthesis rate than those from controls, although they showed a higher protein synthesis rate than either their respective mothers or virgin rats. Liver RNA concentration was higher in control and diabetic, pregnant rats than in virgin rats, and the effect of diabetes decreasing this parameter was only significant for pregnant rats. Liver RNA concentration in fetuses was lower than in their mothers, and did not differ between control and diabetic animals. The decreased protein synthesis found in diabetic animals was accompanied by disaggregation of heavy polysomes into lighter species, indicating an impairment in peptide-chain initiation.

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