Cellular stress, excessive apoptosis, and the effect of metformin in a mouse model of type 2 diabetic embryopathy

Yanqing Wu, Wang Fang, Mao Fu, Wang Cheng, Michael J. Quon, Peixin Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in women of childbearing age has led to a higher incidence of diabetes-associated birth defects. We established a model of type 2 diabetic embryopathy by feeding 4-week-old female mice a high-fat diet (HFD) (60% fat). After 15 weeks on HFD, the mice showed characteristics of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and were mated with lean male mice. During pregnancy, control dams fed a normal diet (10% fat) were maintained on either normal diet or HFD, serving as a control group with elevated circulating free fatty acids. DM dams produced offspring at a rate of 11.3% for neural tube defect (NTD) formation, whereas no embryos in the control groups developed NTDs. Elevated markers of oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress, caspase activation, and neuroepithelial cell apoptosis (causal events in type 1 diabetic embryopathy) were observed in embryos of DM dams. DM dams treated with 200 mg/kg metformin in drinking water ameliorated fasting hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance with consequent reduction of cellular stress, apoptosis, and NTDs in their embryos. We conclude that cellular stress and apoptosis occur and that metformin effectively reduces type 2 diabetic embryopathy in a useful rodent model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2526-2536
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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