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Endocrinology. 2013 May;154(5):1731-42. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-2145. Epub 2013 Mar 24.

Developmental programming: impact of prenatal testosterone excess on insulin sensitivity, adiposity, and free fatty acid profile in postpubertal female sheep.

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Department of Pediatrics and Reproductive Sciences Program, University of Michigan, 300 North Ingalls Building, Room 1137, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0404, USA.


Prenatal T excess causes reproductive and metabolic disruptions including insulin resistance, attributes of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. This study tested whether increases in visceral adiposity, adipocyte size, and total free fatty acids underlie the insulin resistance seen in prenatal T-treated female sheep. At approximately 16 months of age, insulin resistance and adipose tissue partitioning were determined via hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp and computed tomography, respectively, in control and prenatal T-treated females. Three months later, adipocyte size and free fatty acid composition were determined. Results revealed that at the postpubertal time points tested, insulin sensitivity was increased, visceral adiposity and adipocyte size in both the sc and the visceral compartments were reduced, and circulating palmitic acid was increased in prenatal T-treated females relative to controls. In parallel studies, 20-month-old prenatal T-treated females tended to have increased basal insulin to glucose ratio. Relative to earlier findings of reduced insulin sensitivity of prenatal T-treated females during early life and adulthood, these findings of increased insulin sensitivity and reduced adiposity postpubertally are suggestive of a period of developmental adaptation. The disruption observed in free fatty acid metabolism a few months later correspond to a time point when the insulin sensitivity indices of prenatal T-treated animals appear to shift toward insulin resistance. In summary, current findings of improved insulin sensitivity and reduced visceral adiposity in postpubertal prenatal T-treated sheep relative to our earlier findings of reduced insulin sensitivity during early postnatal life and adulthood are indicative of a period of developmental adaptation.

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