Hepatic Insulin Resistance Precedes the Development of Diabetes in a Model of Intrauterine Growth Retardation

  1. Patricia Vuguin1,
  2. Elisabeth Raab2,
  3. Bing Liu3,
  4. Nir Barzilai3 and
  5. Rebecca Simmons2
  1. 1Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
  2. 2Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  3. 3Institute for Aging Research and Diabetes Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Patricia Vuguin, MD, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, 111 E. 210th St., Bronx, NY 10476. E-mail: vuguin{at}aecom.yu.edu


Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) has been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes in adulthood. We developed an IUGR model in rats whereby at age 3–6 months the animals develop a diabetes that is associated with insulin resistance. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp studies were performed at age 8 weeks, before the onset of obesity and diabetes. Basal hepatic glucose production (HGP) was significantly higher in IUGR than in control rats (14.6 ± 0.4 vs. 12.3 ± 0.3 mg · kg−1 · min−1; P < 0.05). Insulin suppression of HGP was blunted in IUGR versus control rats (10.4 ± 0.6 vs. 6.5 ± 1.0 mg · kg−1 · min−1; P < 0.01); however, rates of glucose uptake and glycogenolysis were similar between the two groups. Insulin-stimulated insulin receptor substrate 2 and Akt-2 phosphorylation were significantly blunted in IUGR rats. PEPCK and glucose-6-phosphatase mRNA levels were increased at least threefold in liver of IUGR compared with control rats. These studies suggest that an aberrant intrauterine milieu permanently impairs insulin signaling in the liver so that gluconeogenesis is augmented in the IUGR rat. These processes occur early in life, before the onset of hyperglycemia, and indicate that uteroplacental insufficiency causes a primary defect in gene expression and hepatic metabolism that leads to the eventual development of overt hyperglycemia.


    • Accepted June 28, 2004.
    • Received February 4, 2004.
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