Research Summary: Effects of Cortisol and Dexamethasone on Insulin Signalling Pathways in Skeletal Muscle of the Ovine Fetus during Late Gestation


Before birth, glucocorticoids retard growth, although the extent to which this is mediated by changes in insulin signalling pathways in the skeletal muscle of the fetus is unknown. The current study determined the effects of endogenous and synthetic glucocorticoid exposure on insulin signalling proteins in skeletal muscle of fetal sheep during late gestation. Experimental manipulation of fetal plasma glucocorticoid concentration was achieved by fetal cortisol infusion and maternal dexamethasone treatment. Cortisol infusion significantly increased muscle protein levels of Akt2 and phosphorylated Akt at Ser473, and decreased protein levels of phosphorylated forms of mTOR at Ser2448 and S6K at Thr389. Muscle GLUT4 protein expression was significantly higher in fetuses whose mothers were treated with dexamethasone compared to those treated with saline. There were no significant effects of glucocorticoid exposure on muscle protein abundance of IR-β, IGF-1R, PKCζ, Akt1, calpastatin or muscle glycogen content. The present study demonstrated that components of the insulin signalling pathway in skeletal muscle of the ovine fetus are influenced differentially by naturally occurring and synthetic glucocorticoids. These findings may provide a mechanism by which elevated concentrations of endogenous glucocorticoids retard fetal growth.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 26-December-2012

Author(s): Jellyman J., Martin-Gronert M., Cripps R., Giussani D., Ozanne S., Shen Q., Du M., Fowden A., Forhead A.


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