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Previous studies have shown alterations in bone marrow cell proliferation in malnourished rats, during lactation. The objective of this study was to determine in vivo effects of moderate and severe malnutrition on spleen cell proliferation in 21-day-old rat pups.Spleen cell proliferation was determined following administration of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) over a time course of 2, 4, 6 and 8 h. Incorporation of BrdUrd was detected using FITC-conjugated anti-BrdUrd monoclonal antibodies and total DNA content was detected and evaluated using propidium iodide using flow cytometry.Proportions of cells in S and G2/M were reduced in the rats with moderate (MN2nd) and severe (MN3rd) malnutrition. BrdUrd incorporation was lower in both groups of malnourished rat. In cells of MN2nd individuals, length of G1 became shorter, while length of S-phase increased. In contrast, fraction of cells in proliferation was significantly lower in both groups of malnourished rat, with MN3rd group having lowest percentage of cell population growth. In this study, severe malnutrition did not significantly affect duration of phases of the cell cycle, although fractions of proliferating cells were dramatically reduced.Moderate malnutrition increased time of cells in DNA synthesis and time of total cell cycle and severe malnutrition reduced growth fraction of spleen cells in malnourished rats during lactation.