Nutritional origins of insulin resistance: A rat model for diabetes- prone human populations

John F. Martin, Carol Johnston, Chung Ting Han, Daniel C. Benyshek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


While there has been little success identifying the genetic bases of noninsulin-dependent (type-2) diabetes, current epidemiclogical data and animal models implicate fetal undernutrition in the development of type-2 diabetes. We examined the effects of fetal undernutrition on insulin responses and glucose tolerance in adulthood in genetically normal rats. Control rats were adequately nourished in utero and consumed nutritionally adequate (N) diets throughout life. Experimental rats (F1 generation) were undernourished in utero and consumed either N or high-energy, high-fat (HF) diets postweaning. The offspring of the experimental rats (F2 generation) received the respective diets of their parent. Body weights of experimental F1 rats at d 4 were 40% less than that of control pups, and they remained significantly smaller than controls throughout adulthood. The experimental F1 rats consuming N diets postweaning had a reduced insulin response (-30%) at 30-min postglucose challenge in adulthood (P > 0.05). However, their offspring (F2 generation) displayed a markedly elevated insulin response [+80% at 30 min (P < 0.05) and + 230% at 120 min (P < 0.001) postglucose challenge]. The insulin response of the F2 generation rats fed the high- energy, HF diet was even more pronounced [+130% at 30 min (P < 0.003) and + 250% at 120 min (P < 0.001) postglucose challenge]. Thus, undernourishment in utero produces striking insulin resistance in genetically normal, well- nourished second-generation rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-744
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Insulin resistance
  • Rats
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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