We recently demonstrated that offspring delivered to baboons deprived of estrogen during the second half of gestation exhibited insulin resistance prior to onset of puberty. Because gonadal hormones have a profound effect on insulin action and secretion in adults, we determined whether insulin resistance is retained after initiation of gonadal secretion of testosterone and estradiol. Glucose tolerance tests were performed in postpubertal baboon offspring of untreated and letrozole-treated animals (serum estradiol reduced >95 %). Basal fasting levels of insulin (P < 0.05) and peak 1 min and 1 + 3 + 5 min levels of glucose after glucose tolerance tests challenge (P < 0.03) were greater in offspring delivered to letrozole-treated, estrogen-deprived baboons than untreated animals. Moreover, the value for the HOMA-IR, an accepted index of insulin resistance, was 2-fold greater (P < 0.05) in offspring delivered to baboons treated with letrozole than in untreated animals. Collectively these results support the proposal that estrogen normally has an important role in programming mechanisms in utero within the developing fetus that lead to insulin sensitivity after birth.
Keywords: Estrogen; Insulin sensitivity; Offspring; Primate.