Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are fetal hormones critical to establishing normal fetal growth. Experimentally elevated IGF-1 concentrations during late gestation increase fetal weight but lower fetal plasma insulin concentrations. We therefore hypothesized that infusion of an IGF-1 analog for 1 wk into late gestation fetal sheep would attenuate fetal glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and insulin secretion in islets isolated from these fetuses. Late gestation fetal sheep received infusions with IGF-1 LR3 (IGF-1, n = 8), an analog of IGF-1 with low affinity for the IGF binding proteins and high affinity for the IGF-1 receptor, or vehicle control (CON, n = 9). Fetal GSIS was measured with a hyperglycemic clamp (IGF-1, n = 8; CON, n = 7). Fetal islets were isolated, and insulin secretion was assayed in static incubations (IGF-1, n = 8; CON, n = 7). Plasma insulin and glucose concentrations in IGF-1 fetuses were lower compared with CON (P = 0.0135 and P = 0.0012, respectively). During the GSIS study, IGF-1 fetuses had lower insulin secretion compared with CON (P = 0.0453). In vitro, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion remained lower in islets isolated from IGF-1 fetuses (P = 0.0447). In summary, IGF-1 LR3 infusion for 1 wk into fetal sheep lowers insulin concentrations and reduces fetal GSIS. Impaired insulin secretion persists in isolated fetal islets indicating an intrinsic islet defect in insulin release when exposed to IGF-1 LR3 infusion for 1 wk. We speculate this alteration in the insulin/IGF-1 axis contributes to the long-term reduction in β-cell function in neonates born with elevated IGF-1 concentrations following pregnancies complicated by diabetes or other conditions associated with fetal overgrowth.NEW & NOTEWORTHY After a 1-wk infusion of IGF-1 LR3, late gestation fetal sheep had lower plasma insulin and glucose concentrations, reduced fetal glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, and decreased fractional insulin secretion from isolated fetal islets without differences in pancreatic insulin content.
Keywords: fetus; glucose-stimulated insulin secretion; insulin-like growth factor; β-cell.