Age- and gender-related changes in glucose homeostasis in glucocorticoid-treated rats
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The disruption to glucose homeostasis upon glucocorticoid (GC) treatment in adult male rats has not been fully characterized in older rats or in females. Thus, we evaluated the age-and gender-related changes in glucose homeostasis in GC-treated rats. We injected male and female rats at 3 months and 12 months of age with either dexamethasone (1.0 mg/kg body mass, intraperitoneally) or saline, daily for 5 days. All of the GC-treated rats had decreased body mass and food intake, and adrenal hypotrophy. Increased glycemia was observed in all of the GC-treated groups and only the 3-month-old female rats were not glucose intolerant. Dexamethasone treatment resulted in hyperinsulinemia and hypertriacylglyceridemia in all of the GC-treated rats. The glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) was higher in all of the dexamethasone-treated animals, but it was less pronounced in the older animals. The beta-cell mass was increased in the younger male rats treated with dexamethasone. We conclude that dexamethasone treatment induces glucose intolerance in both the 3- and 12-month-old male rats as well as hyperinsulinemia and augmented GSIS. Three-month-old female rats are protected from glucose intolerance caused by GC, whereas 12-month-old female rats developed the same complications that were present in 3- and 12-month-old male rats.