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Jose Casasnovas, Yunhee Jo, Xi Rao, Xiaoling Xuei, Mary E Brown and Kok Lim Kua

Offspring of diabetic mothers are susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes due to pancreatic islet dysfunction. However, the initiating molecular pathways leading to offspring pancreatic islet dysfunction are unknown. We hypothesized that maternal hyperglycemia alters offspring pancreatic islet transcriptome and negatively impacts offspring islet function. We employed an infusion model capable of inducing localized hyperglycemia in fetal rats residing in the left uterine horn, thus avoiding other factors involved in programming offspring pancreatic islet health. While maintaining euglycemia in maternal dams and right uterine horn control fetuses, hyperglycemic fetuses in the left uterine horn had higher serum insulin and pancreatic beta cell area. Upon completing infusion from GD20 to 22, RNA sequencing was performed on GD22 islets to identify the hyperglycemia-induced altered gene expression. Ingenuity pathway analysis of the altered transcriptome found that diabetes mellitus and inflammation/cell death pathways were enriched. Interestingly, the downregulated genes modulate more diverse biological processes, which includes responses to stimuli and developmental processes. Next, we performed ex and in vivo studies to evaluate islet cell viability and insulin secretory function in weanling and adult offspring. Pancreatic islets of weanlings exposed to late gestation hyperglycemia had decreased cell viability in basal state and glucose-induced insulin secretion. Lastly, adult offspring exposed to in utero hyperglycemia also exhibited glucose intolerance and insulin secretory dysfunction. Together, our results demonstrate that late gestational hyperglycemia alters the fetal pancreatic islet transcriptome and increases offspring susceptibility to developing pancreatic islet dysfunction.

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Kok Lim Kua, Shanming Hu, Chunlin Wang, Jianrong Yao, Diana Dang, Alexander B Sawatzke, Jeffrey L Segar, Kai Wang and Andrew W Norris

Offspring exposed in utero to maternal diabetes exhibit long-lasting insulin resistance, though the initiating mechanisms have received minimal experimental attention. Herein, we show that rat fetuses develop insulin resistance after only 2-day continuous exposure to isolated hyperglycemia starting on gestational day 18. Hyperglycemia-induced reductions in insulin-induced AKT phosphorylation localized primarily to fetal skeletal muscle. The skeletal muscle of hyperglycemia-exposed fetuses also exhibited impaired in vivo glucose uptake. To address longer term impacts of this short hyperglycemic exposure, neonates were cross-fostered and examined at 21 days postnatal age. Offspring formerly exposed to 2 days late gestation hyperglycemia exhibited mild glucose intolerance with insulin signaling defects localized only to skeletal muscle. Fetal hyperglycemic exposure has downstream consequences which include hyperinsulinemia and relative uteroplacental insufficiency. To determine whether these accounted for induction of insulin resistance, we examined fetuses exposed to late gestational isolated hyperinsulinemia or uterine artery ligation. Importantly, 2 days of fetal hyperinsulinemia did not impair insulin signaling in murine fetal tissues and 21-day-old offspring exposed to fetal hyperinsulinemia had normal glucose tolerance. Similarly, fetal exposure to 2-day uteroplacental insufficiency did not perturb insulin-stimulated AKT phosphorylation in fetal rats. We conclude that fetal exposure to hyperglycemia acutely produces insulin resistance. As hyperinsulinemia and placental insufficiency have no such impact, this occurs likely via direct tissue effects of hyperglycemia. Furthermore, these findings show that skeletal muscle is uniquely susceptible to immediate and persistent insulin resistance induced by hyperglycemia.