In vivo studies have shown that insulin resistance in late pregnancy results from a decreased sensitivity of liver and peripheral tissues. In the present study, measurements of the rates of glucose utilization by skeletal muscles (soleus, extensor digitorum longus, epitrochlearis, and diaphragm), white adipose tissue, and brain of virgin and 19-day pregnant rats were performed in the basal condition and during a euglycemic, hyperinsulinemic (400 μU/ml) clamp to quantify the partition of glucose utilization and to identify the tissues other than liver responsible for insulin resistance. Fetal and placental glucose utilization rates were also measured in pregnant rats. The fetal glucose utilization rate (22 mg/min/kg) was very high and was not stimulated by physiologic maternal hyperinsulinemia. By contrast, the placental glucose utilization rate (29 mg/ min/kg) was increased by 30% during hyperinsulinemia. The glucose utilization rate of the conceptus represented 23% of the maternal glucose utilization rate in the basal state. Glucose utilization rates in the basal condition were not statistically altered by pregnancy in brain, skeletal muscles, and white adipose tissue. During hyperinsulinemia (400 μU/ml), glucose utilization rates in extensor digitorum longus, epitrochlearis, and white adipose tissue were 30–70% lower in pregnant than in virgin rats. Insulin sensitivity of glucose metabolism in all the tissues tested other than brain was 50% lower in pregnant than in virgin rats. We conclude that skeletal muscles and, to a smaller extent, adipose tissue are involved in the insulin resistance of late pregnancy.

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