Impact of maternal low-level cadmium exposure on glucose and lipid metabolism of the litter at different ages after weaning

Chemosphere. 2019 Mar;219:109-121. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.11.137. Epub 2018 Nov 26.


Cadmium (Cd) is a metal which may participate in the development of type II diabetes even if Cd exposure levels are mild. However, experimental studies focusing on daily environmentally relevant doses are scarce, particularly for glucose metabolism of the offspring of chronically exposed mothers. The aim is to measure the impact of maternal low level Cd exposure on glucose and lipid metabolism of offspring. Female rats were exposed to 0, 50 or 500 μ of CdCl2, 21 days before mating and during 21 days of gestation and 21 days of lactation. Pups exposure was organized in 3 groups (control, Cd1, Cd2) according to renal dams' Cd burden. Parameters of glucose and lipid metabolisms were measured for the pups on post-natal day 21, 26 and 60. Maternal Cd exposure led to significant amounts of Cd in the liver and kidney of pups. At weaning, insulin secretion upon glucose stimulation was unchanged, but the removal of circulating glucose was slower for pups born from the lowest impregnated dams (Cd1). Five days after, glucose tolerance of all groups was identical. Thus, this loss of insulin sensitivity was reversed, in part by increased adiponectin secretion for the Cd1 group. Furthermore, pups from dams accumulating the highest levels of Cd (Cd2) exhibited a compensatory increased insulin pancreatic secretion, together with increased circulating non-esterified fatty acids, indicating the establishment of insulin resistance, 2 months after birth. This study has demonstrated the influence of maternal exposure to low levels of Cd on glucose homeostasis in the offspring that might increase the risk of developing type II diabetes later in life.

Keywords: Cadmium burden; DOHaD; Diabetes; Glucose metabolism; Lipid metabolism; Mixed statistical models.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadmium / chemistry*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Glucose / chemistry*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Weaning


  • Cadmium
  • Glucose