Insulin resistance and impaired baroreflex gain during pregnancy

Daisy L. Daubert, Mee Young Chung, Virginia L. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Pregnancy decreases baroreflex gain, but the underlying mechanism is unclear. Insulin resistance, which has been associated with reduced transport of insulin into the brain, is a consistent feature of many conditions exhibiting impaired baroreflex gain, including pregnancy. Therefore, using conscious pregnant and nonpregnant rabbits, we tested the novel hypothesis that the pregnancy-induced impairment in baroreflex gain is due to insulin resistance and reduced brain insulin. Baroreflex gain was determined by quantifying changes in heart rate in response to stepwise steady-state changes in arterial pressure, secondary to infusion of nitroprusside and phenylephrine. We found that insulin sensitivity and baroreflex gain were strongly correlated in nonpregnant and term pregnant rabbits (r2 = 0.59). The decrease in insulin sensitivity and in baroreflex gain exhibited similar time courses throughout pregnancy, reaching significantly lower levels at 3 wk of gestation and remaining reduced at 4 wk (term is 31 days). Treatment of rabbits with the insulin-sensitizing drug rosiglitazone during pregnancy almost completely normalized baroreflex gain. Finally, pregnancy significantly lowered cerebrospinal fluid insulin concentrations. These data identify insulin resistance as a mechanism underlying pregnancy-induced baroreflex impairment and suggest, for the first time in any condition, that decreased brain insulin concentrations may be the link between reductions in peripheral insulin sensitivity and baroreflex gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R2188-R2195
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Conscious rabbits
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Rosiglitazone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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