Localization of glycogen in the placenta and fetal and maternal livers of cadmium-exposed diabetic pregnant rats

Biol Trace Elem Res. Winter 2003;96(1-3):217-26. doi: 10.1385/BTER:96:1-3:217.


This study was designed to investigate the effects of Cd exposure on the glycogen localization in the placenta and in fetal and maternal livers in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced-diabetic pregnant rats. Ninety-nine virgin female Wistar rats (200-220 g) were mated with 33 males for at least 12 h. From the onset of pregnancy, the rats were divided into four experimental groups (control, Cd treated, STZ treated, and Cd+STZ treated). The Cd-treated group was injected subcutaneously daily with CdCl2 dissolved in isotonic NaCl, starting at the onset of pregnancy throughout the experiment. Diabetes was induced on d 13 of pregnancy by a single intraperitoneal injection of STZ in the STZ-treated group. In addition to the daily injection of Cd, a single intraperitoneal injection of STZ was also given on d 13 of pregnancy in the Cd+STZ-treated group. The rats received the last injection 24 h before being sacrificed and 10 randomly selected rats in each group were sacrificed on d 15 and d 20 of pregnancy. Blood samples were taken for determination of the serum glucose and insulin levels. Fetal and maternal livers of sacrificed rats in all groups were harvested on d 15 and d 20 of pregnancy, whereas placentas were harvested only on d 20 of pregnancy for histochemical examination. Although both Cd and STZ caused hyperglycemia and decreased insulin secretion, Cd-alone treatment increased the glycogen content only in the placental labyrinth, whereas STZ-alone treatment increased the glycogen content only in the maternal part of the placenta. Increased glycogen localization was observed in both the placental labyrinth and the maternal part of placenta when Cd and STZ were given together. Fetal and maternal livers of control and other treatment groups were not different regarding the glycogen content on d 15 or d 20 of pregnancy. It was concluded that Cd exposure during pregnancy might produce a glycogen localization in the placenta of diabetic rats. However, the function and the mechanisms of increased glycogen contents in the placenta of Cd-exposed pregnant diabetic rats remain unclear and further studies are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cadmium / administration & dosage
  • Cadmium / pharmacology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fetus / chemistry*
  • Glycogen / analysis*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Liver / chemistry*
  • Liver Glycogen / analysis
  • Male
  • Placenta / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / chemically induced
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy, Animal / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Streptozocin / pharmacology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Liver Glycogen
  • Cadmium
  • Streptozocin
  • Glycogen