Clinical studies have shown that very low protein diet (VLPD) has negative effects on long-term survival. It remains unclear why VLPD induces premature death. The present study determined the underlying mechanism whereby VLPD exerts its harmful effects on uremic rats.Main methods:
Rats were divided into four groups and fed a normal diet or diets containing 0.3% adenine and low/normal protein with high/low phosphate. After 6 weeks, body weight, urinary biochemistry (creatinine and phosphate), serum biochemical parameters (urea, creatinine, fibroblast growth factor 23, albumin, and fetuin-A), systemic inflammatory markers (serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha and urinary 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine), calcium content in the aorta, and serum calcium-phosphate precipitates were evaluated. Hepatic mRNA levels were also determined.Key findings:
Rats fed the diet containing 0.3% adenine developed severe azotemia. Rats fed VLPD developed malnutrition (decreases in body weight, serum albumin and fetuin-A levels, and urinary creatinine excretion) and systemic inflammation (increases in serum tumor necrosis factor-α and urinary 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine) independent of phosphate status. VLPD decreased the serum fetuin-A level and hepatic fetuin-A synthesis and increased serum calcium-phosphate precipitates, a marker of calciprotein particle. A high-phosphate diet induced arterial medial calcification, which was enhanced by VLPD. Serum calcium-phosphate precipitate levels were correlated with the degree of inflammation, malnutrition, and aortic calcium content. Dietary phosphate restriction prevented VLPD-enhanced vascular calcification, but could not halt inflammation and malnutrition induced by VLPD.Significance:
VLPD enhances inflammation, malnutrition, and vascular calcification in uremic rats, among which only vascular calcification is prevented by dietary phosphate restriction.