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Diabetologia. 2004 Jul;47(7):1306-1313. doi: 10.1007/s00125-004-1436-1. Epub 2004 Jul 1.

Direct demonstration of lipid sequestration as a mechanism by which rosiglitazone prevents fatty-acid-induced insulin resistance in the rat: comparison with metformin.

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Garvan Institute of Medical Research, 384 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.
Garvan Institute of Medical Research, 384 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.



Thiazolidinediones can enhance clearance of whole-body non-esterified fatty acids and protect against the insulin resistance that develops during an acute lipid load. The present study used [(3)H]-R-bromopalmitate to compare the effects of the thiazolidinedione, rosiglitazone, and the biguanide, metformin, on insulin action and the tissue-specific fate of non-esterified fatty acids in rats during lipid infusion.


Normal rats were treated with rosiglitazone or metformin for 7 days. Triglyceride/heparin (to elevate non-esterified fatty acids) or glycerol (control) were then infused for 5 h, with a hyperinsulinaemic clamp being performed between the 3rd and 5th hours.


Rosiglitazone and metformin prevented fatty-acid-induced insulin resistance (reduced clamp glucose infusion rate). Both drugs improved insulin-mediated suppression of hepatic glucose output but only rosiglitazone enhanced systemic non-esterified fatty acid clearance (plateau plasma non-esterified fatty acids reduced by 40%). Despite this decrease in plateau plasma non-esterified fatty acids, rosiglitazone increased fatty acid uptake (two-fold) into adipose tissue and reduced fatty acid uptake into liver (by 40%) and muscle (by 30%), as well as reducing liver long-chain fatty acyl CoA accumulation (by 30%). Both rosiglitazone and metformin increased liver AMP-activated protein kinase activity, a possible mediator of the protective effects on insulin action, but in contrast to rosiglitazone, metformin had no significant effect on non-esterified fatty acid kinetics or relative tissue fatty acid uptake.


These results directly demonstrate the "lipid steal" mechanism, by which thiazolidinediones help prevent fatty-acid-induced insulin resistance. The contrasting mechanisms of action of rosiglitazone and metformin could be beneficial when both drugs are used in combination to treat insulin resistance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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