Novel lean type 2 diabetic rat model using gestational low-protein programming

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Apr;214(4):540.e1-540.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.02.004. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


Background: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) in lean individuals is not well studied and up to 26% of diabetes occurs in these individuals. Although the cause is not well understood, it has been primarily attributed to nutritional issues during early development.

Objective: Our objective was to develop a lean T2D model using gestational low-protein (LP) programming.

Study design: Pregnant rats were fed control (20% protein) or isocaloric LP (6%) diet from gestational day 4 until delivery. Standard diet was given to dams after delivery and to pups after weaning. Glucose tolerance test was done at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Magnetic resonance imaging of body fat for females was done at 4 months. Rats were sacrificed at 4 and 8 months of age and their perigonadal, perirenal, inguinal, and brown fat were weighed and expressed relative to their body weight. Euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp was done around 6 months of age.

Results: Male and female offspring exposed to a LP diet during gestation developed glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (IR). Further, glucose intolerance progressed with increasing age and occurred earlier and was more severe in females when compared to males. Euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp showed whole body IR in both sexes, with females demonstrating increased IR compared to males. LP females showed a 4.5-fold increase in IR while males showed a 2.5-fold increase when compared to their respective controls. Data from magnetic resonance imaging on female offspring showed no difference in the subcutaneous, inguinal, and visceral fat content. We were able to validate this observation by sacrificing the rats at 4 and 8 months and measuring total body fat content. This showed no differences in body fat content between control and LP offspring in either males or females. Additionally, diabetic rats had a similar body mass index to that of the controls.

Conclusion: LP gestational programming produces a progressively worsening T2D model in rats with a lean phenotype without obesity.

Keywords: gestational programming; glucose intolerance; insulin resistance; lean diabetes; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sex Factors
  • Thinness*