Understanding the pathogenesis of gestational diabetes

Project Details

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) affects up to 20% of all pregnancies but have an impact that extends well beyond pregnancy and childbirth, with the potential for lifelong morbidity or mortality for both mother and baby.

Despite the enormous health-impact of GDM, little progress has been made with interventions aimed at prevention. An efficacious medical therapeutic that can prevent the development of GDM would be a major advance. Such treatments do not exist and their development is hampered by the fact the pathophysiology of GDM is incompletely understood. Current therapy for GDM is largely “glucocentric”, with the major therapeutic goal being achievement of glucose levels as close to normal pregnancy values as possible. However, these current therapies do not target inflammation, which is critical to both disease pathogenesis and long-term outcome in GDM.

This project will investigate whether major regulators of inflammation such as sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) are involved in the pathophysiology of GDM.



  • Norman Beischer Medical Research Foundation
  • Diabetes Australia
  • Rebecca L Cooper Foumndation
  • Endocrine Society of Australia

Research Publications

Liong, S.; Lappas, M. Endoplasmic reticulum stress regulates inflammation and insulin resistance in skeletal muscle from pregnant women. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology (2016) 425: 11-25.

Lappas, M. Activation of inflammasomes in adipose tissue of women with gestational diabetes. Mol Cell Endocrinol (2014) 382:74-83.

Lappas, M. GSK3beta is increased in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle from women with gestational diabetes where it regulates the inflammatory response. PLoS One (2014) 9 12 e115854.

Lappas, M. The NR4A receptors Nurr1 and Nur77 are increased in human placenta from women with gestational diabetes. Placenta (2014) 35: 866-75.

Oliva, K.; Barker, G.; Rice, G. E.; Bailey, M. J.; Lappas, M. 2D-DIGE to identify proteins associated with gestational diabetes in omental adipose tissue. J Endocrinol (2013) 218:165-178.

Lappas, M.; Hiden, U.; Desoye, G.; Froehlich, J.; Hauguel-de Mouzon, S.; Jawerbaum, A. The role of oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of gestational diabetes mellitus. Antioxid Redox Signal (2011) 15:3061-3100.

Research Group

Obstetrics, Nutrition and Endocrinology Group

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine, Women's Health, Infectious Diseases and Immunity

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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