Progesterone in gestational diabetes mellitus: guilty or not guilty?

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Mar;14(2):54-6. doi: 10.1016/s1043-2760(03)00003-1.


Insulin resistance is one of the metabolic changes in pregnancy, but only a fraction of women develop overt impaired glucose tolerance or frank diabetes. Most women are able to compensate this altered metabolic state by increasing the amount of insulin produced by the pancreatic beta cells. Progesterone might well be the key to the development of gestational diabetes. Previously high progesterone levels have already been shown to be correlated with the development of glucose abnormalities in pregnancy and now, in a new paper, progesterone receptor-knockout mice are found to have improved glucose tolerance. These mice showed increased insulin secretion, which is probably linked to the presence of increased numbers of beta cells in their pancreas. Is progesterone therefore the 'ultimate bad guy', prohibiting normal adaptation of the pancreatic beta-cell reserve during pregnancy?

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes, Gestational / etiology*
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / genetics


  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Progesterone