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Diabetes. 1996 Jan;45 Suppl 1:S99-104.

Significance of insulin for glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle during contractions.

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Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.


Glucose uptake rate in active skeletal muscles is markedly increased during exercise. This increase reflects a multifactorial process involving both local and systemic mechanisms that cooperate to stimulate glucose extraction and glucose delivery to the muscle cells. Increased glucose extraction is effected primarily via mechanisms exerted within the muscle cell related to the contractile activity per se. Yet contractions become a more potent stimulus of muscle glucose uptake as the plasma insulin level is increased. In addition, enhanced glucose delivery to muscle, which during exercise is essentially effected via increased blood flow, significantly contributes to stimulate glucose uptake. Again, however, increased glucose delivery appears to be a more potent stimulus of muscle glucose uptake as the circulating insulin level is increased. Furthermore, contractions and elevated flow prove to be additive stimuli of muscle glucose uptake at any plasma insulin level. In conclusion, the extent to which muscle glucose uptake is stimulated during exercise depends on various factors, including 1) the intensity of the contractile activity, 2) the magnitude of the exercise-associated increase in muscle blood flow, and 3) the circulating insulin level.

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