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Metabolism. 1999 Mar;48(3):330-7.

Chronic physiologic hyperinsulinemia impairs suppression of plasma free fatty acids and increases de novo lipogenesis but does not cause dyslipidemia in conscious normal rats.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio 78284-7886, USA.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity are characterized by fasting hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance with respect to glucose metabolism, elevated plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels, hypertriglyceridemia, and decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. An association between hyperinsulinemia and dyslipidemia has been suggested, but the causality of the relationship remains uncertain. Therefore, we infused eight 12-week-old male catheterized conscious normal rats with insulin (1 mU/min) for 7 days while maintaining euglycemia using a modification of the glucose clamp technique. Control rats (n = 8) received vehicle infusion. Baseline FFAs were 1.07+/-0.13 mmol/L, decreased to 0.57+/-0.10 (P < .05) upon initiation of the insulin infusion, and gradually increased to 0.95+/-0.12 by day 7 (P = NS vbaseline). On day 7 after a 6-hour fast, plasma insulin, glucose, and FFA levels in control and chronically hyperinsulinemic rats were 32+/-5 versus 116+/-21 mU/L (P < .005), 122+/-4 versus 129+/-8 mg/dL (P = NS), and 1.13+/-0.18 versus 0.95+/-0.12 mmol/L (P = NS); total plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels were 78+/-7 versus 66+/-9 mg/dL (P = NS) and 50+/-3 versus 47+/-2 mg/dL (P = NS), respectively. Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) + intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and HDL2 and HDL3 subfractions of plasma triglyceride and cholesterol were similar in control and hyperinsulinemic rats. Plasma FFA correlated positively with total (r = .61, P < .005) triglycerides. On day 7 after an 8-hour fast, hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps with 3-3H-glucose infusion were performed in all rats. Chronically hyperinsulinemic rats showed peripheral insulin resistance (glucose uptake, 15.8+/-0.8 v 19.3+/-1.4 mg/kg x min, P < .02) but normal suppression of hepatic glucose production (HGP) compared with control rats (4.3+/-1.0 v 5.6+/-1.4 mg/kg x min, P = NS). De novo tissue lipogenesis (3-3H-glucose incorporation into lipids) was increased in chronically hyperinsulinemic versus control rats (0.90+/-0.10 v 0.44+/-0.08 mg/kg x min, P < .005). In conclusion, chronic physiologic hyperinsulinemia (1) causes insulin resistance with regard to the suppression of plasma FFA levels and increases lipogenesis; (2) induces peripheral but not hepatic insulin resistance with respect to glucose metabolism; and (3) does not cause an elevation in VLDL-triglyceride or a reduction in HDL-cholesterol.

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