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Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Dec;39(12):1703-9. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.125. Epub 2015 Jul 9.

Insulin resistance in obesity can be reliably identified from fasting plasma insulin.

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Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Clinical Chemistry, Laboratory of Endocrinology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Insulin resistance is the major contributor to cardiometabolic complications of obesity. We aimed to (1) establish cutoff points for insulin resistance from euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamps (EHCs), (2) identify insulin-resistant obese subjects and (3) predict insulin resistance from routinely measured variables.


We assembled data from non-obese (n=112) and obese (n=100) men who underwent two-step EHCs using [6,6-(2)H2]glucose as tracer (insulin infusion dose 20 and 60 mU m(-2) min(-1), respectively). Reference ranges for hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity were calculated from healthy non-obese men. Based on these reference values, obese men with preserved insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance were identified.


Cutoff points for insulin-mediated suppression of endogenous glucose production (EGP) and insulin-stimulated glucose disappearance rate (Rd) were 46.5% and 37.3 μmol kg(-)(1) min(-)(1), respectively. Most obese men (78%) had EGP suppression within the reference range, whereas only 12% of obese men had Rd within the reference range. Obese men with Rd <37.3 μmol kg(-1) min(-1) did not differ from insulin-sensitive obese men in age, body mass index (BMI), body composition, fasting glucose or cholesterol, but did have higher fasting insulin (110±49 vs 63±29 pmol l(-1), P<0.001) and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (4.5±2.2 vs 2.7±1.4, P=0.004). Insulin-resistant obese men could be identified with good sensitivity (80%) and specificity (75%) from fasting insulin >74 pmol l(-1).


Most obese men have hepatic insulin sensitivity within the range of non-obese controls, but below-normal peripheral insulin sensitivity, that is, insulin resistance. Fasting insulin (>74 pmol l(-1) with current insulin immunoassay) may be used for identification of insulin-resistant (or metabolically unhealthy) obese men in research and clinical settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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