Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Growth restriction in utero increases risk for developing insulin resistance



A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, explored how restricted growth of a fetus during pregnancy can lead to insulin resistance later in life. They studied this risk factor in guinea pigs as larger litter sizes are known to restrict the growth of developing fetuses.

Findings from the study showed that neonatal guinea pigs grow rapidly after birth to compensate for their restricted in utero growth. In addition, young adult male offspring from larger litters (4 offspring as compared to 2) developed impaired whole body insulin sensitivity as adults even before they develop high blood sugar.  In contrast, young adult female offspring from larger litters developed impaired insulin sensitivity in the liver and tended to produce more glucose compared to males from larger litters.


Horton DM, Saint DA, Gatford KL, Kind KL, Owens JA. Sex-specific programming of adult insulin resistance in guinea pigs by variable perinatal growth induced by spontaneous variation in litter size. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 316(4): R352-361, 2019.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons


Categories: Reproduction and Development

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