Introduction: TNFα is suspected to play a role in inflammation and insulin resistance leading to higher risk of metabolic impairment. Controversies exist concerning the role of TNFα in gestational insulin resistance. We investigated the interrelations between TNFα and insulin resistance in a large population-based cohort of pregnant women.
Methods: Women (n = 756) were followed prospectively at 5-16 weeks and 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. Anthropometric measures and blood samples were collected at both visits. A 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was conducted at the second trimester to assess insulin sensitivity status (homeostasis model of assessment of insulin resistance and Matsuda index). TNFα was measured at the first trimester (nonfasting) and at each time point of the OGTT.
Results: Participants were 28.4 ± 4.4 years old and had a mean body mass index of 25.5 ± 5.5 kg/m(2) at first trimester. Median TNFα levels were 1.56 (interquartile range, 1.18-2.06) pg/mL at first trimester and 1.61 (interquartile range, 1.12-2.13) pg/mL at second trimester (1 h after glucose load). At second trimester, higher TNFα levels were associated with higher insulin resistance index levels (r = 0.37 and -0.30 for homeostasis model of assessment of insulin resistance and Matsuda index, respectively; P < .0001), even after adjustment for age, body mass index, triglycerides, and adiponectin. Women with higher insulin resistance showed a continuing decrease in TNFα levels during the OGTT, whereas women who were more insulin sensitive showed an increase in TNFα at hour 1 and a decrease at hour 2 of the test.
Conclusion: Higher insulin resistance is associated with higher levels of circulating TNFα at first and second trimesters of pregnancy. TNFα level dynamics during an OGTT at second trimester vary according to insulin-resistance state.