In an Ovine Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Prenatal Androgens Suppress Female Fetal Renal Gluconeogenesis

Fiona Connolly, Michael T. Rae, Katharina Sp??th, Lyndsey Boswell, Alan S. McNeilly, W. Colin Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increased maternal androgen exposure during pregnancy programmes a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)-like condition, with metabolic dysfunction, in adult female offspring. Other in utero exposures associated with the development of insulin resistance, such as intrauterine growth restriction and exposure to prenatal glucocorticoids, are associated with altered fetal gluconeogenesis. We therefore aimed to assess the effect of maternal androgenisation on the expression of PEPCK and G6PC in the ovine fetus. Pregnant Scottish Greyface sheep were treated with twice weekly testosterone propionate (TP; 100mg) or vehicle control from day 62 to day102 of gestation. At day 90 and day 112 fetal plasma and liver and kidney tissue was collected for analysis. PEPCK and G6PC expression were analysed by quantitative RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and western blotting. PEPCK and G6PC were localised to fetal hepatocytes but maternal androgens had no effect on female or male fetuses. PEPCK and G6PC were also localised to the renal tubules and renal PEPCK (P<0.01) and G6PC (P = 0.057) were lower in females after prenatal androgenisation with no change in male fetuses. These tissue and sex specific observations could not be explained by alterations in fetal insulin or cortisol. The sexual dimorphism may be related to the increase in circulating estrogen (P<0.01) and testosterone (P<0.001) in females but not males. The tissue specific effects may be related to the increased expression of ESR1 (P<0.01) and AR (P<0.05) in the kidney when compared to the fetal liver. After discontinuation of maternal androgenisation female fetal kidney PEPCK expression normalised. These data further highlight the fetal and sexual dimorphic effects of maternal androgenisation, an antecedent to adult disease and the plasticity of fetal development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0132113
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2015


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