Biology of the Neonate vol:55 issue:4-5 pages:298-308
The maternal and fetal endocrine pancreas were investigated in the diabetic BB rat on day 21 of pregnancy. The maternal pancreas of the diabetic rat contained practically no insulin-positive B cells. The A and D cell mass were also decreased, while plasma glucagon and somatostatin levels were normal or increased, confirming previous data. Six of 11 diabetic rats had B-cell-specific surface antibodies (ICSA), whereas only 1 of 10 nondiabetic rats was ICSA-positive. The volume density of insulin-positive cells was decreased in the fetal pancreas of diabetic BB rats compared to fetuses of nondiabetic rats, but the volume density of glucagon- and somatostatin-positive cells remained normal. The B cells of these fetuses were ultrastructurally less granulated and showed signs of increased cellular activity. Plasma insulin levels were decreased while plasma glucagon and somatostatin concentrations were normal. ICSA were not detected in fetuses of nondiabetic and diabetic rats. There were no differences in the histology of the spleen and thymus between both groups of fetuses. Metabolic characterization of the growth-retarded fetuses of diabetic rats revealed, besides lower plasma insulin concentrations, increased branched chain amino acid levels, and normal plasma Sm/IGF-I levels. The main conclusions from this study are: (1) Severe maternal diabetes decreases the pancreatic insulin-positive cell mass and plasma insulin levels in the fetus, but not the A and D cell mass and function; (2) ICSA are not detectable in fetal plasma; (3) the influence of maternal BB rat diabetes on fetal endocrine pancreas and metabolic environment resembles that of severe streptozotocin-induced diabetes.