Particulate Matter Exposure During Perinatal Life Results in Impaired Glucose Metabolism in Adult Male Rat Offspring

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018;49(1):395-405. doi: 10.1159/000492901. Epub 2018 Aug 28.


Background/aims: Particulate matter (PM) is an important risk factor for immunological system imbalance due to its small size, which can reach more distal regions of the respiratory tract, independently of its chemical composition. Some studies have suggested that PM exposure is associated with an increased incidence of diabetes, especially in industrialized urban regions. However, studies regarding the effects of PM exposure during perinatal life on glucose metabolism are limited. We tested whether exposure to PM from an urban area with poor air quality during pregnancy and lactation could cause short- and long-term dysfunction in rat offspring.

Methods: Samples of < 10 µm PM were collected in an urban area of Cotonou, Benin (West Africa), and reconstituted in corn oil. Pregnant Wistar rats received 50 µg PM/day by gavage until the end of lactation. After birth, we analyzed the dams' biochemical parameters as well as those of their male offspring at 21 and 90 days of age.

Results: The results showed that PM exposure did not lead to several consequences in dams; however, the male offspring of both ages presented an increase of approximately 15% in body weight. Although the blood glucose levels remained unchanged, the insulin levels were increased 2.5- and 2-fold in PM exposure groups of both ages, respectively. HOMA-IR and HOMA-β were also increased at both ages. We also demonstrated that the number, islet area and insulin immunodensity of pancreatic islets were significantly increased at both ages from PM exposure.

Conclusion: Our data show that chronic PM exposure by the oral route during perinatal life in rats leads to glucose dyshomeostasis in male offspring both in early and later life. Thus, we suggest that an ambience with poor air quality, mainly where traffic is dense, can contribute to an increase in metabolic disease incidence.

Keywords: Air pollution; Glucose metabolism; Metabolic programming; Particulate matter; Perinatal life.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Male
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • ROC Curve
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Particulate Matter
  • Glucose