Circulating adipokines and mRNA expression in adipose tissue and the placenta in women with gestational diabetes mellitus

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Abstract

Maternal adipose tissue and the placenta secrete various molecules commonly called adipokines such as chemerin, omentin-1, visfatin, adiponectin, and leptin that are important players in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as a state of glucose intolerance characterized by β-cell dysfunction and insulin resistance. To examine whether circulating adipokines and their mRNA expression in the adipose tissue and the placenta are altered in GDM pregnancy, we compared 15 GDM women [obese (BMI > 30) and non-obese (BMI < 30)] to 23 NGT (normal glucose tolerance) women [obese and non-obese], at the time of the Cesarean section. Circulating chemerin and leptin were higher (p = 0.009 and p = 0.005, respectively) and circulating omentin-1, visfatin, as well as the adiponectin/leptin ratio were lower (p = 0.039, p = 0.007 and p = 0.011, respectively) in GDM-obese compared to NGT-non-obese women. Chemerin and leptin correlated positively with BMI and HOMA-IR and omentin-1 correlated negatively with BMI. Serum TNF-α was significantly elevated in all obese compared to non-obese pregnant women and correlated positively with BMI. Adiponectin levels were reduced -although not significantly- in GDM- and NGT-obese women compared to their non-obese counterparts. Resistin, RPB4 and IL-6 levels did not differ significantly between groups. Chemerin mRNA expression in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) was significantly higher compared to placenta in all women (6-to 24-times, p < 0.05). Chemerin-VAT mRNA expression in GDM-obese tended to be significantly higher compared to NGT-non-obese women (3-times, p = 0.005). Omentin-1 mRNA expression was significantly higher in VAT compared to SAT (50- to 100-times, p < 0.01) and its expression in placenta was negligible in all women. Although, leptin was expressed significantly higher in SAT compared to VAT and the placenta in all women (5- to 46-times, p < 0.05), only its mRNA expression in VAT of obese (GDM and NGT) differed significantly when compared to NGT-non-obese women (3-times higher, p < 0.02). Visfatin mRNA expression was comparable in all tissues. In conclusion, chemerin and leptin are elevated and omentin-1 and visfatin levels are decreased in GDM women complicated by obesity. This finding together with the positive association of chemerin and leptin with markers of insulin resistance, suggests that these adipokines and more especially chemerin and leptin accompanied by their adipose tissue expression could contribute to the increased insulin resistance and low grade inflammation that characterizes GDM-obese women.

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