Differences in lipid metabolism in acquired versus preexisting glucose intolerance during gestation: role of free fatty acids and sphingosine-1-phosphate.
The prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is increasing worldwide. There is increasing evidence that GDM is a heterogeneous disease with different subtypes. An important question in this context is whether impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), which is a typical feature of the disease, may already be present before pregnancy and manifestation of the disease. The latter type resembles in its clinical manifestation prediabetes that has not yet manifested as type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Altered lipid metabolism plays a crucial role in the disorder's pathophysiology. The aim was to investigate the role of lipids which are relevant in diabetes-like phenotypes in these both models with different time of initial onset of IGT.
Two rodent models reflecting different characteristics of human GDM were used to characterize changes in lipid metabolism occurring during gestation. Since the New Zealand obese (NZO)-mice already exhibit IGT before and during gestation, they served as a subtype model for GDM with preexisting IGT (preIGT) and were compared with C57BL/6 N mice with transient IGT acquired during gestation (aqIGT). While the latter model does not develop manifest diabetes even under metabolic stress conditions, the NZO mouse is prone to severe disease progression later in life. Metabolically healthy Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI) mice served as controls.
In contrast to the aqIGT model, preIGT mice showed hyperlipidemia during gestation with elevated free fatty acids (FFA), triglycerides (TG), and increased atherogenic index. Interestingly, sphingomyelin (SM) concentrations in the liver decreased during gestation concomitantly with an increase in the sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) concentration in plasma. Further, preIGT mice showed impaired hepatic weight adjustment and alterations in hepatic FFA metabolism during gestation. This was accompanied by decreased expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) and lack of translocation of fatty acid translocase (FAT/CD36) to the hepatocellular plasma membrane.
The preIGT model showed impaired lipid metabolism both in plasma and liver, as well as features of insulin resistance consistent with increased S1P concentrations, and in these characteristics, the preIGT model differs from the common GDM subtype with aqIGT. Thus, concomitantly elevated plasma FFA and S1P concentrations, in addition to general shifts in sphingolipid fractions, could be an interesting signal that the metabolic disorder existed before gestation and that future pregnancies require more intensive monitoring to avoid complications. This graphical abstract was created with BioRender.com .