The aim of this investigation was to determine the time course of changes in serum glucose, insulin and lipid levels, as well as lipid and protein content and lipolytic activities in insulin target organs (liver, adipose tissue and muscle), in macrosomic offspring of streptozotocin-induced mildly hyperglycaemic rats. Food intake and nutritional efficiency were also evaluated. Mild hyperglycaemia in pregnant rats was induced by intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin (40 mg/kg body weight) on day 5 of gestation. Control pregnant rats were injected with citrate buffer. At birth, macrosomic pups (birth weight > 1.7 S.D. greater than the mean value for the control pups) had higher serum insulin, glucose and lipid levels than control pups. These macrosomic rats maintained accelerated postnatal growth combined with high adipose tissue weight up to 12 weeks of age. These rats were not hyperphagic; however, they had higher food efficiency and fat storage capacity with higher adipocyte lipoprotein lipase activity, which contributed to persisting obesity. Hepatic lipase activity was increased in macrosomic rats at all ages. Moreover, macrosomia was associated with metabolic disturbances that varied according to age and sex. After 1 month, several alterations observed at birth had disappeared. Serum glucose, insulin and lipid levels in male and female macrosomic rats became similar to those of their respective controls. At 2 months of age, hepatic and serum triacylglycerol levels were higher in macrosomic females than in controls. By 3 months, macrosomic rats (both males and females) had developed insulin resistance with hyperinsulinaemia, hyperglycaemia, and higher serum and hepatic lipids. In conclusion, macrosomia was associated with alterations in glucose and lipid metabolism through to adulthood. It should be considered as an important potential risk factor for obesity and its metabolic complications.

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