Effect of placental restriction and neonatal exendin-4 treatment on postnatal growth, adult body composition, and in vivo glucose metabolism in the sheep

Hong Liu, Christopher G. Schultz, Miles J. De Blasio, Anita M. Peura, Gary K. Heinemann, Himawan Harryanto, Damien S. Hunter, Amy L. Wooldridge, Karen L. Kind, Lynne C. Giles, Rebecca A. Simmons, Julie A. Owens, Kathryn L. Gatford

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Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) increases the risk of adult type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity. Neonatal exendin-4 treatment can prevent diabetes in the IUGR rat, but whether this will be effective in a species where the pancreas is more mature at birth is unknown. Therefore, we evaluated the effects of neonatal exendin-4 administration after experimental restriction of placental and fetal growth on growth and adult metabolic outcomes in sheep. Body composition, glucose tolerance, and insulin secretion and sensitivity were assessed in singletonborn adult sheep from control (CON; n = 6 females and 4 males) and placentally restricted pregnancies (PR; n = 13 females and 7 males) and in sheep from PR pregnancies that were treated with exendin-4 as neonates (daily sc injections of 1 nmol/kg exendin-4; PR + exendin- 4; n = 11 females and 7 males). Placental restriction reduced birth weight (by 29%) and impaired glucose tolerance in the adult but did not affect adult adiposity, insulin secretion, or insulin sensitivity. Neonatal exendin-4 suppressed growth during treatment, followed by delayed catchup growth and unchanged adult adiposity. Neonatal exendin-4 partially restored glucose tolerance in PR progeny but did not affect insulin secretion or sensitivity. Although the effects on glucose tolerance are promising, the lack of effects on adult body composition, insulin secretion, and insulin sensitivity suggest that the neonatal period may be too late to fully reprogram the metabolic consequences of IUGR in species that are more mature at birth than rodents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E589-E600
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Body composition
  • Exendin-4
  • Glucose tolerance
  • Insulin action
  • Intrauterine growth restriction

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