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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Keehr, Kay
item Hunt, Curtiss

Submitted to: North Dakota Academy of Science Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2000
Publication Date: 5/1/2000
Citation: Keehr, K.A., Hunt, C. 2000. Dietary boron and erythritol affect reproduction and fetal development in rats. Proceedings of the North Dakota Academy of Science. 54:35.

Interpretive Summary: Small amounts of the element boron, found naturally in fruits and vegetables are necessary for plant growth and reproduction. Present studies indicate that boron is also important for reproduction and early development in frogs, fish and mice. We investigated whether boron alone, or in combination with a natural molecule that binds boron (erythritol) affects reproduction and early development in the rat. Fetuses from rat mothers fed the special diets were examined for skeletal abnormalities and defects. Rat mothers fed adequate amounts of boron without erythritol had the highest number of pups and mothers fed a low boron diet with added erythritol had the lowest number of pups. Rat mothers fed adequate boron had pups with vertebral growth similar to rats fed a regular rat chow diet. However, pups from mothers fed low amounts of boron had accelerated vertebral growth. We need to do further research to determine whether faster vertebral growth before birth results in bone problems after birth in pups fed low amounts of boron. There were also more rib abnormalities in pups whose mothers were fed erythritol. We conclude that dietary boron helps reproduction, and that diets that include erythritol may increase the amount of abnormalities.

Technical Abstract: Previous research indicates that physiologic amounts of dietary boron affect reproductive function and embryonic development in frogs, fish and mice. The objective of this experiment was to characterize the role of dietary boron and erythritol in reproduction and development in rats. Weanling Sprague-Dawley female rats were fed a boron low basal diet (~0.1 mg B/kg) supplemented with boron (as orthoboric acid) at 0 (0B) and 2 (2B) mg/kg, and I-erythritol (E), a boron-binding biomolecule, at 0 (0E) or 5 (5E) mg/kg diet for a erythritol:boron molar ratio of 4 in the OB/5E group. Dietary treatment was maintained for eight weeks prior to and during gestation. The females were bred with similarly fed males. On gestation day 19, fetuses were dissected from the uterus and were examined for gross morphological and skeletal defects. The cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral vertebrae were scored for degree of ossification and morphological defects. Physiologic amounts of boron decreased the number of fetal resorptions per litter in the absence of erythritol. However, boron increased resorptions in the presence of erythritol. Dietary erythritol affected rib development as evidenced by increased incidence of discontinuous rib XI of pups from dams fed supplemental erythritol. Fetal thoracic vertebral morphologic maturation in litters fed physiologic amounts of boron were similar to that observed in commercial chow fed rats. However, vertebral maturation was accelerated in fetuses from dams fed low amounts of boron as indicated by fewer dumbbell-shaped vertebrae, an earlier stage of vertebral development. Further research is necessary to determine whether accelerated rates of vertebral ossification during during boron deprivation have deleterious postnatal consequences.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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