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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998 Aug;18(8):1199-202.

Relation between plasma tumor necrosis factor-alpha and insulin sensitivity in elderly men with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Human obesity is associated with an increased tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) mRNA expression in adipose tissue. TNF-alpha decreases insulin-dependent glucose uptake by inhibiting autophosphorylation of the insulin receptor, suggesting that TNF-alpha may play a role in insulin resistance. In this study, we analyzed plasma levels of TNF-alpha in 40 70-year-old men with newly detected non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and in 20 age-matched controls. Twenty of the patients had a moderate level of insulin resistance and 20 were severely insulin resistant. The plasma levels of TNF-alpha were higher in patients (4.00+/-1.53 pg/mL in moderately insulin resistant and 4.91+/-1.43 pg/mL in severely insulin resistant subjects) than in controls (3.27+/-0.79 pg/mL, P<0.001). TNF-alpha was significantly related to body mass index, fasting glucose levels, and serum triglyceride levels and inversely related to the high density lipoprotein cholesterol level. The finding of an association between high plasma levels of TNF-alpha and several metabolic abnormalities characteristic for the insulin resistance syndrome suggests that TNF-alpha may be involved in the pathogenesis of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

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