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Diabetes. 2007 Mar;56(3):720-7.

Family history of diabetes links impaired substrate switching and reduced mitochondrial content in skeletal muscle.

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Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA.


Insulin resistance is associated with metabolic inflexibility, impaired switching of substrate oxidation from fatty acids to glucose in response to insulin. Impaired switching to fat oxidation in response to a high-fat diet (HFD) is hypothesized to contribute to insulin resistance. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that defects in substrate switching in response to insulin and a HFD are linked to reduced mitochondrial biogenesis and occur before the development of diabetes. Metabolic flexibility was measured in young sedentary men with (n = 16) or without (n = 34) a family history of diabetes by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp. Flexibility correlated with fat oxidation measured in a respiratory chamber after a 3-day HFD. Muscle mitochondrial content was higher in flexible subjects with high fat oxidation after a HFD and contributed 49% of the variance. Subjects with a family history of diabetes were inflexible and had reduced HFD-induced fat oxidation and muscle mitochondrial content but did not differ in the amount of body or visceral fat. Metabolic inflexibility, lower adaptation to a HFD, and reduced muscle mitochondrial mass cluster together in subjects with a family history of diabetes, supporting the role of an intrinsic metabolic defect of skeletal muscle in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance.

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