Modifications induced by gestational diabetes mellitus on cellular membrane properties

L. Mazzanti, R. Staffolani, R. A. Rabini, C. Romanini, A. M. Cugini, G. Benedetti, N. Cester, E. Faloia, R. De Pirro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alterations in erythrocyte plasma membrane properties (enzymatic activities and membrane fluidity) have been observed in patients affected by insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). In order to verify whether these alterations are present also in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) we studied the plasma membranes obtained from two different cellular types (erythrocyte from both mother and cord blood and placenta syncytiothrophoblast cell) of 16 healthy pregnant women and 15 women affected by GDM. The following determinations were performed on the membrane preparations: Na+/K+-ATPase activity, acetylcholinesterase (AchE) activity, membrane fluidity and cholesterol:phospholipid ratio. We observed a reduction of both enzymatic activities and a decrease of membrane fluidity in maternal and cord blood erythrocytes and in syncytio-trophoblast plasma membranes in GDM pregnant women in comparison with controls. The cholesterol to phospholipid ratio was significantly lower in the erythrocyte membranes of women affected by GDM than in normal pregnant women, while it was increased in the cord blood erythrocyte membranes and in placental membranes in GDM in comparison with controls. The present study found, in GDM patients, a membrane alteration similar to the abnormality reported in IDDM and NIDDM (i.e. decreased Na+/K+-ATPase activity), while opposite modifications were observed with regard to other membrane activities and properties. The different membrane alterations observed in GDM with respect to IDDM and NIDDM might be linked to the different degree of metabolic control, on the contrary the reduced Na+/K+-ATPase activity might be a primary event in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus per se and might constitute a signal of high risk of developing the disease later in the women affected by GDM during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-410
Number of pages6
JournalScandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Enzymatic activity
  • Erythrocyte
  • Fluidity
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus
  • Plasma membrane
  • Syncytiotrophoblast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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