Hypercalciuria may be a contributory factor to the disturbed calcium homoeostasis seen in diabetic pregnant rats and their offspring. In diabetes, essential fatty acid metabolism is impaired. We have therefore investigated whether feeding a diet supplemented with essential fatty acids will ameliorate the hypercalciuria of diabetic pregnancy and improve reproductive performance.
Female rats were fed a standard rat diet, a fat-free diet plus evening primrose oil or a fat-free diet plus sunflower oil. They were injected with streptozotocin or vehicle and mated. Urine samples were analysed for calcium before injection and during gestation.
Term-pregnant diabetic rats fed evening primrose oil showed a 73% reduction in urinary calcium output compared with similar rats fed standard diet (P<0·001). The corresponding reduction was 44% in diabetic rats fed sunflower oil (P<0·001). A depletion of essential fatty acids in diabetes may therefore be associated with hypercalciuria; dietary supplementation, particularly with evening primrose oil, appears to correct the problem.
Diabetic pregnant rats fed evening primrose oil showed a significantly greater live fetal mass (85 ± 2 vs 33 ± 12 g; P<0·05) compared with similar rats fed standard diet. Such findings may imply a normalization of placental transport by essential fatty acids. Rats fed evening primrose, but not sunflower oil, also showed a reduced incidence of diabetes after streptozotocin injection compared with rats fed standard diet (63 vs 86%). Rats fed on evening primrose oil that did become diabetic were less hyperglycaemic than those on the standard diet (29 ± 2 vs 37 ± 2 mmol/l), suggesting that the oil may have anti-diabetic properties.
Journal of Endocrinology (1997) 153, 357–363