Reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion following a 1-wk IGF-1 infusion in late gestation fetal sheep is due to an intrinsic islet defect

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Jun 1;320(6):E1138-E1147. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00623.2020. Epub 2021 May 3.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes, Gestational / metabolism
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / metabolism
  • Fetal Macrosomia / metabolism
  • Fetal Macrosomia / pathology
  • Fetus / drug effects*
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Infusion Pumps
  • Insulin Secretion / drug effects*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / administration & dosage
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Diseases / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Glucose