Sexual dimorphism in insulin sensitivity and susceptibility to develop diabetes in rats

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The goal of this study was to evaluate gender-related differences of some metabolic determinants of insulin sensitivity and of susceptibility to the effects of diabetes. Changes in body weight, blood glucose, and serum insulin concentrations were compared between female and male Wistar rats in prepubertal, pubertal, and adult stages of life. A diabetic model was induced by streptozotocin (STZ) under nicotinamide protection in both sexes and metabolic patterns were evaluated during the next 4 weeks. Finally, the pancreases were processed for morphometric analysis. In the three age groups, at similar blood glucose levels, higher fasting serum insulin levels were found in female as compared with age matched male rats. After STZ treatment, female rats show lower insulin and higher glucose levels, and a worse survival rate as compared with male rats. The more severe disease phenotype observed in female animals is associated with a more dramatic perturbation of pancreatic islet morphology. Significant differences exist in insulin sensitivity between sexes, females being less sensitive to insulin than males at all age groups and more susceptible to the rapid development of a more severe form of diabetes than males.

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DOI: 10.1677/joe.1.06596
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