Catecholamines are essential organizers of the developing brain. Throughout life, they are involved, e.g., in the regulation of body weight and metabolism by specific hypothalamic nuclei, which are suggested to be highly vulnerable to maternal gestational hyperglycemia. By application of streptozotocin (30 mg/kg, i.p.) gestational diabetes (GD) was induced in female rats. On the 1st day of life, male GD offspring were underweight (P<0.05) and hyperglycemic (P<0.05), while on the 21st day of life decreased body weight (P<0.001) and elevated pancreatic insulin (P<0.01) were observed. Using HPLC with electrochemical detection, hypothalamic catecholamines were determined in the newborns, and quantitative immunocytochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) was performed. At birth, a tendency towards increased levels of norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA) in the whole hypothalami of GD offspring was observed. In the 21-day-old offspring of GD mothers, NE was significantly increased in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMN; P<0.05) and the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA; P<0.05), while DA was significantly elevated in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN; P<0.05) and the LHA (P<0.05). The NE/DA-ratio was found to be decreased in the PVN of GD offspring (P<0.01). Moreover, numerical density of TH-positive neurons was clearly increased within the parvocellular division of the PVN (P<0.0001) as well as in the periventricular hypothalamic area (PER; P<0.05). These data suggest specific alterations of catecholaminergic systems within hypothalamic regulators of body weight and metabolism during early development in the offspring of gestational diabetic mother rats.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.