Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is closely related to the later development of type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Excessive activation of N-methly-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) causes excitatory neurotoxicity, resulting in neuronal injury or death. Inhibition of NMDARs enhances the glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and survival of islet cells in type 2 diabetic mouse and human islets. Here, we examined whether antenatal blockade of NMDARs by Memantine could decrease the risk of diabetes induced by a high-fat (HF) diet at adulthood in IUGR rats. Pregnant SD rats were assigned to four groups: control, IUGR, Memantine, and Memantine IUGR. The pregnant rats were exposed to hypoxic conditions (FiO2 = 0.105) for 8 h/day (IUGR group) or given a daily Memantine injection (5 mg/kg, i.p.) before hypoxia exposure from embryonic day (E) 14.5 to E 20.5 (Memantine IUGR). The offspring were fed an HF diet with 60% of the calories from age 4 to 12 weeks. We found that NMDAR mRNAs were expressed in the fetal rat pancreas. An HF diet resulted in a high rate of diabetes at adulthood in the IUGR group. Antenatal Memantine treatment decreased the risk of diabetes at adulthood of rats with IUGR, which was associated with rescued glucose tolerance, increased insulin release, improved the insulin sensitivity, and increased expression of genes related to beta-cell function in the pancreas. Together, our results suggest that antenatal blockade of NMDARs by Memantine in pregnant rats improves fetal development and reduces the susceptibility to diabetes at adulthood in offspring.
The excessive activation of NMDARs is involved in the restriction of fetal pancreas development induced by intrauterine hypoxia, and antenatal Memantine treatment attenuates the susceptibility to diabetes induced by an HF diet in IUGR rats.