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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992 May;74(5):1101-9.

Expression of GLUT1 and GLUT4 glucose transporters in skeletal muscle of humans with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: regulatory effects of metabolic factors.

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Charles A. Dana Research Institute, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.


Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is associated with insulin deficiency and insulin-resistant glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. To investigate the molecular mechanisms for this insulin resistance, we examined the expression of GLUT1 and GLUT4, glucose transporter genes in vastus lateralis muscle from 20 IDDM subjects and 10 nondiabetic controls. Both groups had a mean age of 34 yr and were nonobese. Fasting free plasma insulin levels were similar in control and IDDM subjects but hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), fasting plasma glucose and free fatty acid levels were significantly higher in IDDM subjects. Euglycemic clamp studies over a range of insulin concentrations in these IDDM subjects previously showed both decreased insulin sensitivity and decreased maximally insulin stimulated glucose utilization. In this study, Northern blotting of muscle ribonucleic acid (RNA) revealed a single 3.0-3.5 kb transcript for both GLUT1 and GLUT4 with no change in messenger RNA (mRNA) size or abundance with IDDM. In IDDM subjects, GLUT1 mRNA levels correlated positively with HbA1c whereas GLUT4 mRNA levels correlated negatively with fasting plasma glucose but not with HbA1c. Neither mRNA correlated with fasting plasma insulin or free fatty acid levels or with daily insulin dose. Immunoblotting of total muscle membranes for GLUT4 showed a single band of mol mass of approximately 45 kilodaltons with no change in size or abundance with IDDM. There was no significant correlation between GLUT4 polypeptide levels and HbA1c, fasting plasma glucose, insulin, or free fatty acids, daily insulin dose, duration of diabetes, or subject age but in IDDM subjects GLUT4 protein levels correlated negatively with body mass index. Thus, impaired expression of glucose transporters in muscle is not essential for the pathogenesis of insulin-resistant glucose uptake in IDDM. No direct regulatory role of chronic glycemic control or plasma insulin levels on GLUT4 expression is evident. In contrast, recent ambient glucose levels may affect levels of GLUT4 mRNA but not GLUT4 protein, suggesting important posttranscriptional regulation of this protein. Since glucose transport has been shown to be rate limiting for glucose utilization in muscle in IDDM, these results suggest impaired translocation or activation of glucose transporters in IDDM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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