Horm Metab Res 1986; 18(7): 441-445
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1012341

© Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart · New York

Increased Placental Growth and Raised Plasma Glucocorticoid Concentrations in Fetal Rabbits Injected with Insulin In Utero

J. M. Fletcher, J. M. Bassett
  • Nuffield Institute for Medical Research, University of Oxford, Oxford, England
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Publication History



Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


Individual rabbit fetuses in utero were injected intramuscularly with either 2.0 Units protamine zinc insulin or saline at 23 days gestation after surgical reduction of litter size to 4 fetuses at 9 days gestation. Insulin-treated fetuses were still hyperinsulinaemic compared with littermate controls at 28 days gestation. Neither fetal body weight nor carcase composition were affected by insulin injection, but placental weight and RNA content were increased. Placental weight was highly correlated with plasma insulin concentration in control fetuses, but not in insulin-injected fetuses.

Twenty-four hours after injection of insulin into individual fetal rabbits from normal litters at 23 or 27 days gestation insulin-injected fetuses were hyperinsulinaemic and euglycaemic, but had significantly higher plasma glucocorticoid concentrations than saline-injected littermates.

Stimulation of placental growth by fetal insulin may be an important component of the fetal growth stimulatory effect of endogenous insulin. Growth stimulatory effects of exogenous insulin may be antagonised by raised plasma glucocorticoid concentrations.