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Diabetes. 2007 Dec;56(12):2958-63. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

Hyperinsulinemia rapidly increases human muscle microvascular perfusion but fails to increase muscle insulin clearance: evidence that a saturable process mediates muscle insulin uptake.

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  • 1University of Virginia Health System, P.O. Box 801410, 450 Ray C. Hunt Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.



Transport of insulin from the central circulation into muscle is rate limiting for the stimulation of glucose metabolism. By recruiting muscle microvasculature, insulin may promote its own movement into muscle interstitium. We tested whether in humans, as in the rat, insulin exerts an early action to recruit microvasculature within skeletal muscle. We further hypothesized that expansion of the microvascular volume of muscle would enhance muscle insulin clearance.


Microvascular volume, total blood flow, and muscle insulin and glucose uptake (forearm balance method) were measured in 14 lean, healthy volunteers before and during a 2-h hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp (1 mU x kg(-1) x min(-1)). Microvascular volume was measured using contrast-enhanced ultrasound.


Forearm muscle microvascular volume increased within 20 min of insulin infusion (P < 0.01), whereas an effect to increase total forearm flow was not observed until 100 min. Forearm insulin uptake increased with physiological hyperinsulinemia (15 +/- 3 and 87 +/- 13 fmol x min(-1) x 100 ml(-1) basal vs. last 40 min of clamp, P < 0.001). However, the extraction fraction and clearance of insulin declined (P = 0.02, for each), indicating saturability of muscle insulin uptake at physiological hyperinsulinemia.


Skeletal muscle contributes to peripheral insulin clearance both in the basal state and with physiological hyperinsulinemia. Insulin promptly expands human muscle microvascular volume but only slowly increases blood flow. Despite increased microvascular volume available for insulin uptake, muscle insulin clearance decreases significantly. These findings are consistent with the presence of a saturable transport mechanism facilitating the transendothelial transport of insulin into human muscle.

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