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J Nucl Med. 2011 Dec;52(12):1993-2000. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.111.087882. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Maternal and sex dependency of insulin resistance: longitudinal PET and echocardiography study from the healthy fetus to the adult minipig.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Council, Pisa, Italy.


Cardiovascular and metabolic vulnerability have an early developmental origin. We evaluated the potential influence of innate life factors, including the metabolism of the mother and the sex of the offspring, on cardiometabolic risk, including organ-specific insulin resistance, subclinical cardiac dysfunction, and DNA oxidative damage throughout the lifespan.


Two female minipigs were studied during late pregnancy, and their offspring were restudied at the ages of 1 mo (n = 11), 6 mo (n = 9), and 9 mo (n = 10, 6 offspring and 4 age-matched animals). We measured insulin-mediated glucose disposal in skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, liver, and myocardium using (18)F-FDG PET; cardiac function using 2-dimensional strain echocardiography; and DNA damage using the comet assay.


Glucose metabolism showed the 2 sows to have differences similar to those in their respective 1-mo-old offspring. Over time, compared with female animals, male animals developed myocardial insulin resistance (male animals vs. female animals: 34 ± 5 vs. 58 ± 8 μmol/min/kg at 6 mo, P = 0.03; 29 ± 8 vs. 60 ± 7 μmol/min/kg at 9 mo, P = 0.02). Cardiac function progressively deteriorated in male animals from 1 mo (radial strain, -60% ± 7%; strain rate, -5.4 ± 0.9 s(-1)) to 6 mo (radial strain, -41% ± 5%; strain rate, -2.5 ± 0.2 s(-1), P < 0.05 vs. 1 mo) and 9 mo (radial strain, -32% ± 5%; strain rate, -1.6 ± 0.2 s(-1), P < 0.01 vs. 1 mo) and was significantly different from that in female animals (radial strain, -48% ± 4%; strain rate, -3.1 ± 0.2 s(-1), P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively). Oxidative damage was reduced in female animals and increased in male animals across age categories (P < 0.05).


The metabolism of minipig offspring is influenced by maternal insulin sensitivity during early life stages. Sex-related effects prevail thereafter in healthy minipigs, documenting a precocious onset of cardiometabolic vulnerability in male offspring.

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