Interaction of Iron Homeostasis and Fatty Acid Metabolism in the Development of Glucose Intolerance in Women with Previous Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Nutrients. 2023 Jul 20;15(14):3214. doi: 10.3390/nu15143214.


A gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) diagnosis during pregnancy means an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. By following up with women after GDM we aimed to examine the relationship between iron parameters, individual fatty acids (FAs) and desaturases in the development of impaired glucose metabolism (IGM). Based on an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), six years after GDM, 157 women were grouped as having normal glucose tolerance (NGT) or IGM. Fasting serum FAs, activity of desaturases and iron parameters (ferritin, transferrin, iron, soluble transferrin receptor, total iron binding capacity, hepcidin) were measured, and clinical and anthropometric measurements taken. Soluble transferrin receptor was higher in the IGM group compared to the NGT group (3.87 vs. 3.29 mg/L, p-value = 0.023) and associated positively with saturated FAs and negatively with monounsaturated FAs in the IGM group (adjusted for BMI, age and high sensitivity C-reactive protein; p-value < 0.05). Iron, as well as transferrin saturation, showed a positive association with MUFAs and desaturase activity. These associations were not seen in the NGT group. These results suggest that iron homeostasis and FA metabolism interact in the development of glucose intolerance in women with previous GDM.

Keywords: gestational diabetes mellitus; glucose tolerance; insulin resistance; iron; serum fatty acids; transferrin receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Diabetes, Gestational*
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Transferrins


  • Blood Glucose
  • Iron
  • Fatty Acids
  • Transferrins
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases
  • Immunoglobulin M