Plasma ghrelin and resistin concentrations are suppressed in infants of insulin-dependent diabetic mothers

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Nov;89(11):5563-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2004-0736.


This study aimed to investigate 1) the effect of maternal diabetes mellitus on ghrelin, resistin, leptin, and insulin in term newborns; 2) the interrelationship of these metabolic hormones in the early postnatal period; and 3) the association of the hormones with anthropometric parameters at birth. A total of 120 term newborns were prospectively enrolled and categorized into three groups: 40 were infants of nondiabetic mothers (group N), 42 were infants born to mothers with gestational diabetes on low energy dietary treatment (group D), and 38 were infants born to mothers with preexisting or severe gestational diabetes who required exogenous insulin for stabilization of blood sugar during pregnancy (group I). Plasma ghrelin and resistin were significantly lower in group I than in either group N or group D infants (P < 0.048). Plasma ghrelin and subscapular skinfold thickness were significantly higher in female than in male infants [plasma ghrelin: median (interquartile range), 3.8 (3.0-4.8) vs. 3.0 (2.4-4.0) ng/ml in females and males, respectively; P = 0.003; subscapular skinfold thickness: 4.9 (4.2-5.6) vs. 4.6 (3.9-5.2) mm; P = 0.03]. In group N, plasma ghrelin was significantly, but negatively, associated with birth weight (r = -0.31; P = 0.05) and body length (r = -0.33; P = 0.04), whereas in group I, plasma ghrelin was negatively correlated with plasma resistin (r = -0.37; P = 0.02). Plasma ghrelin and resistin are suppressed in infants of insulin-dependent diabetic mothers, suggesting that the metabolic hormonal system is probably operational in fetal and early postnatal life. A low circulating ghrelin concentration may be advantageous to these infants, because a reduction in appetite may prevent excessive weight gain postnatally and counterbalances the in utero anabolic effect of hyperinsulinism in poorly controlled diabetic mothers. The suppressive effect of insulin on resistin may partially explain the excess accumulation of adipose tissue in infants of diabetic mothers by reducing the inhibitory effect of resistin on adipogenesis. Female infants have significantly higher plasma ghrelin levels than male infants, suggesting that sexual dimorphism exists in utero. This study has also shown an association between some of the metabolic hormones in specific groups of infants and thus suggests that these hormones could have interacted in utero to regulate growth and fat storage during this critical period.

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Ghrelin
  • Hormones, Ectopic / blood*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Peptide Hormones / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / metabolism*
  • Resistin
  • Sex Factors


  • Ghrelin
  • Hormones, Ectopic
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Peptide Hormones
  • RETN protein, human
  • Resistin