Female offspring of women with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have lower levels of a protein that offers metabolic and cardiovascular protection.
The protein adiponectin is believed to be a biomarker for distinguishing between individuals at low and high metabolic risk. Having a higher leptin-to-adiponectin ratio can be used to identify the risk of conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
This risk is higher among people with maternal disease, such as type 1 diabetes, but researchers from Odense University Hospital in Denmark found in a new study that this risk extended more to female offspring than male.
In total, the scientists analysed data from 271 adolescent offspring of mothers with type 1 diabetes, and 297 adolescents born to mothers without the condition.
They then measured a plenitude of health markers including adiponectin and leptin levels, glucose, insulin, pubertal stage and total body fat.
The results showed that girls born of mothers with type 1 diabetes had lower adiponectin levels than those with mothers without type 1 diabetes. This difference was not observed among boys.
Both adolescent boys and girls had levels of leptin that were 30 per cent higher if their mothers had type 1 diabetes.
The leptin-to-adiponectin ratio was also higher for boys and girls of mothers with type 1 diabetes, although after adjustment for total body fat the findings only persisted for adolescent boys.
The researchers therefore believe that increased body fat could be associated with an elevated leptin and adiponectin ratio.
Additionally, the study team found that no direct effect was demonstrated between maternal HbA1c in pregnancy and leptin-to-adiponectin ratio.
The researchers therefore believe the results “suggest that abnormal regulation of adipokines is a consequence of being born of mothers with type 1 diabetes”.
The findings appear online in the journal Metabolism.

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