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J Am Soc Nephrol. 1992 Nov;3(5):1078-91.

Effects of hyperglycemia on glucose transporters of the muscle: use of the renal glucose reabsorption inhibitor phlorizin to control glycemia.

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Division of Cell Biology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Individuals with non-insulin dependent or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus present insulin resistance in peripheral tissues. This is reflected in a subnormal whole body insulin-dependent glucose utilization, largely dependent on skeletal muscle. Glucose transport across the cell membrane of this tissue is rate limiting in the utilization of the hexose. Therefore, it is possible that a defect exists in insulin-dependent glucose transport in skeletal muscle in diabetic states. This review focuses on two questions: is there a defect at the level of glucose transporters in skeletal muscle of diabetic animal models, and is this a consequence of abnormal insulin or glucose levels? The latter question arises from the fact that these parameters usually vary inversely to each other. Glucose transport into skeletal muscle occurs by two membrane proteins, the GLUT1 and GLUT4 gene products. By subcellular fractionation and Western blotting with isoform-specific antibodies, it was determined that isolated plasma membranes (PM) contain GLUT4 and GLUT1 proteins at a molar ratio of 3.5:1 and that an intracellular fraction (internal membranes; IM) different from sarcoplasmic reticulum contains only GLUT4 transporters. The IM furnishes transporters to the PM in response to insulin. Both transporter isoforms bind cytochalasin B in a D-glucose-protectable fashion. In streptozocin-induced diabetes of the rat with normal fasting insulin levels and marked hyperglycemia, the number of cytochalasin B-binding sites and of GLUT4 proteins diminishes in the PM whereas the GLUT1 proteins increase to a new ratio of about 1.5:1 GLUT4:GLUT1. In the IM, the levels of GLUT4 protein drop, as does the cellular GLUT4 mRNA. To investigate if these changes are associated with hyperglycemia, glucose levels were corrected back to normal values for a 24-h period with sc injections of phlorizin to block proximal tubule glucose reabsorption. This treatment restored cytochalasin B binding, restored GLUT4 and GLUT1 values back to normal levels in the PM, and partly restored cytochalasin B binding but not GLUT4 levels in the IM, consistent with only a partial recovery of GLUT4 mRNA. It is concluded that GLUT4 protein in the PM correlates inversely whereas GLUT1 protein correlates directly with glycemia. It is proposed that the decrease in GLUT4 levels is a protective mechanism, sparing skeletal muscle from gaining glucose and experiencing diabetic complications, albeit at the expense of becoming insulin resistant.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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