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Prolactin and maternal metabolism in women with a recent GDM pregnancy and links to future T2D: the SWIFT study

Prolactin is a multifaceted hormone known to regulate lactation. In women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) history, intensive lactation has been associated with lower relative risk of future type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, the role of prolactin in T2D development and maternal metabolism in women with a recent GDM pregnancy has not been ascertained. We examined the relationships among prolactin, future T2D risk, and key clinical and metabolic parameters. We utilized a prospective GDM research cohort (the SWIFT study) and followed T2D onset by performing 2-hour 75-g research oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at study baseline (6-9 weeks postpartum) and again annually for 2 years, and also by retrieving clinical diagnoses of T2D from 2 years through 10 years of follow up from electronic medical records. Targeted metabolomics and lipidomics were applied on fasting plasma samples collected at study baseline from 2-hour 75-g research OGTTs in a nested case-control study (100 future incident T2D cases vs 100 no T2D controls). Decreasing prolactin quartiles were associated with increased future T2D risk (adjusted odds ratio 2.48; 95% CI, 0.81-7.58; P = 0.05). In women who maintained normoglycemia during the 10-year follow-up period, higher prolactin at baseline was associated with higher insulin sensitivity (P = 0.038) and HDL-cholesterol (P = 0.01), but lower BMI (P = 0.001) and leptin (P = 0.002). Remarkably, among women who developed future T2D, prolactin was not correlated with a favorable metabolic status (all P > 0.05). Metabolomics and lipidomics showed that lower circulating prolactin strongly correlated with a T2D-high risk lipid profile, with elevated circulating neutral lipids and lower concentrations of specific phospholipids/sphingolipids. In women with recent GDM pregnancy, low circulating prolactin is associated with specific clinical and metabolic parameters and lipid metabolites linked to a high risk of developing T2D.

Authors: Zhang, Ziyi; Piro, Anthony L; Allalou, Amina; Alexeeff, Stacey E; Dai, Feihan F; Gunderson, Erica P; Wheeler, Michael B

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2022 Aug 18;107(9):2652-2665.

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