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When exposed to nutrient excess and insulin resistance, pancreatic β-cells undergo adaptive changes in order to maintain glucose homeostasis. The role that growth control genes, highly expressed in early pancreas development, might exert in programming β-cell plasticity in later life is a poorly studied area. The imprinted Igf2 (insulin-like growth factor 2) gene is highly transcribed during early life and has been identified in recent genome-wide association studies as a type 2 diabetes susceptibility gene in humans. Hence, here we investigate the long-term phenotypic metabolic consequences of conditional Igf2 deletion in pancreatic β-cells (Igf2βKO) in mice. We show that autocrine actions of IGF2 are not critical for β-cell development, or for the early post-natal wave of β-cell remodelling. Additionally, adult Igf2βKO mice maintain glucose homeostasis when fed a chow diet. However, pregnant Igf2βKO females become hyperglycemic and hyperinsulinemic, and their conceptuses exhibit hyperinsulinemia and placentomegalia. Insulin resistance induced by congenital leptin deficiency also renders Igf2βKO females more hyperglycaemic compared to leptin-deficient controls. Upon high-fat diet feeding, Igf2βKO females are less susceptible to develop insulin resistance. Based on these findings, we conclude that in female mice, autocrine actions of β-cell IGF2 during early development determine their adaptive capacity in adult life.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





Metabolic Research Laboratories and MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrookes Hospital, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK.