Insulin resistance is a normal phenomenon emerging in the second trimester of pregnancy, which in cases of GDM progresses thereafter to levels seen in a non-pregnant person with type 2 diabetes. It is thought to secure glucose supply to the growing fetus. Women with GDM have an insulin resistance that they cannot compensate for with increased production in the β-cells of the pancreas. Placental hormones, and, to a lesser extent, increased fat deposits during pregnancy, seem to mediate insulin resistance during pregnancy. Cortisol and progesterone are the main culprits, but human placental lactogen, prolactin and estradiol contribute, too. Multivariate stepwise regression analysis reveals that, in combination with other placental hormones, leptin, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and resistin are involved in the decrease in insulin sensitivity occurring during pregnancy, with tumor necrosis factor alpha named as the strongest independent predictor of insulin sensitivity in pregnancy. An inverse correlation with the changes in insulin sensitivity from the time before conception through late gestation accounts for about half of the variance in the decrease in insulin sensitivity during gestation: in other words, low levels or alteration of TNF alpha factors corresponds with a greater chance of, or predisposition to, insulin resistance or sensitivity.
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