Preclinical rodent and nonhuman primate models investigating maternal obesity have highlighted the importance of the intrauterine environment in the development of insulin resistance in offspring; however, it remains unclear if these findings can be translated to humans. To investigate possible intrauterine effects in humans, we isolated mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from the umbilical cord tissue of infants born to mothers of normal weight or mothers with obesity. Insulin-stimulated glycogen storage was determined in MSCs undergoing myogenesis in vitro. There was no difference in insulin action based on maternal obesity. However, maternal free fatty acid (FFA) concentration, cord leptin, and intracellular triglyceride content were positively correlated with insulin action. Furthermore, MSCs from offspring born to mothers with elevated FFAs displayed elevated activation of the mTOR signaling pathway. Taken together, these data suggest that infants born to mothers with elevated lipid availability have greater insulin action in MSCs, which may indicate upregulation of growth and lipid storage pathways during periods of maternal overnutrition.

Clinical trial reg. no. NCT02273297,

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