University of Iowa Honors Theses

Major Department

Health and Human Physiology


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BS (Bachelor of Science)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2017

Honors Major Advisor

Gary Pierce

Thesis Mentor

Melissa L. Bates


Neonatal Supplemental Oxygen Exposure Promotes the Development of Metabolic

Disease in Adult Rats

Madison Sturgeon, Michael Hoover, Rachel Luehrs, Shilpa Vellookunnel, Shreya

Chandrasekar, Austin Murphy, and Melissa L. Bates

Department of Human Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Premature infants frequently require supplemental oxygen to sustain life, but little is known

about how supplemental oxygen administered during the critical developmental window after

birth increases the risk of age-related disease, including obesity and diabetes. We

hypothesized that neonatal rats exposed to supplemental oxygen (OXY) would have

impaired glucose tolerance and that they would develop a diabetes phenotype earlier than

controls (CON), when offered a high fat diet. We used an established rat model of neonatal

oxygen exposure (80% O2 for 8-14 days) and glucose tolerance was evaluated 14 days and

12 months post-natally. To evaluate glucose tolerance, baseline blood glucose was

measured after an overnight fast, followed by an intraperitoneal injection of concentrated

glucose. Blood glucose was then measured 15, 30, 60 and 120 minutes post-injection. In a

second experiment, two month old OXY and CON rats were randomly assigned to an

animal-based fat diet (60% of calories from fat), or standard, low fat diet for ten weeks. At

the beginning of the study and each subsequent week, glucose tolerance was measured. At

14 days and 12 months, OXY rats had higher blood glucose at 15 and 30 minutes compared

to CON rats. OXY rats fed a high fat diet developed frank glucose intolerance after 4 weeks.

Ten weeks of high fat diet had minimal effect on glucose tolerance in CON rats. Taken

together, these data suggest that supplemental oxygen during the neonatal period may predispose

the premature infant to the development of metabolic disease later in life.


supplemental oxygen, critical developmental window, metabolic disease, diabetes, high fat diet, glucose tolerance

Total Pages

8 pages


Copyright © 2017 Madison Sturgeon