We have previously shown that long-term exposure to medium containing insulin-induced hypoglycemic serum during the early phase of organogenesis can adversely affect embryonic development in rat embryo culture and that these effects were mediated through the interruption of glycolytic flux that constituted the principal pathway at this embryonic stage. Further experiments were performed to examine whether brief exposure to the hypoglycemic medium during critical developmental periods would have adverse effects on embryogenesis during embryo culture not only in normal but also in high glucose concentrations. Rat embryos in the early head-fold stage (9.5 days gestation) were grown in vitro for 48 h until neural tube closure occurred; dysmorphogenic lesions were not elicited in either the basal culture medium containing 6.6 mM glucose (control medium) or the hyperglycemic medium supplemented with glucose at a concentration of 33.3 mM. Hypoglycemic mediums (2.2−2.5 mM glucose) were prepared from the serum of rats given insulin intraperitoneally. Postimplantation embryos (in early neural tube formation) were briefly exposed (1 h) to hypoglycemic medium on day 10.3 of gestation during the basal culture. After exposure to the hypoglycemic medium for 1 h during culture in the control medium, embryos showed minor growth retardation and dysmorphogenic lesions (7.1% open neural pores). Exposure to the hypoglycemic medium for 1 h during culture in hyperglycemic medium supplemented with a subteratogenic concentration of glucose (33.3 mM) resulted in greater growth retardation and increased occurrence of dysmorphogenic lesions (17.3% open neural pores). These results indicate that even brief exposure to hypoglycemia can adversely affect embryogenesis at the critical developmental period, and these effects are enhanced when embryos are cultured in hyperglycemic medium.

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