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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Feb 14;92(4):983-7.

Decreased muscle glucose transport/phosphorylation is an early defect in the pathogenesis of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Yale Medical School, New Haven, CT 06520.


Recent studies have demonstrated that reduced insulin-stimulated muscle glycogen synthesis is the major cause of insulin resistance in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). This reduced rate has been assigned to a defect in either glucose transport or hexokinase activity. However it is unknown whether this is a primary or acquired defect in the pathogenesis of NIDDM. To examine this question, we measured the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis and the muscle glucose 6-phosphate (G6P) concentration using 13C and 31P NMR spectroscopy as well as oxidative and nonoxidative glucose metabolism in six lean, normoglycemic offspring of parents with NIDDM and seven age/weight-matched control subjects under hyperglycemic (approximately 11 mM)-hyperinsulinemic (approximately 480 pM) clamp conditions. The offspring of parents with NIDDM had a 50% reduction in total glucose metabolism, primarily due to a decrease in the nonoxidative component. The rate of muscle glycogen synthesis was reduced by 70% (P < 0.005) and muscle G6P concentration was reduced by 40% (P < 0.003), which suggests impaired muscle glucose transport/hexokinase activity. These changes were similar to those previously observed in subjects with fully developed NIDDM. When the control subjects were studied at similar insulin levels (approximately 440 pM) but euglycemic plasma glucose concentration (approximately 5 mM), both the rate of glycogen synthesis and the G6P concentration were reduced to values similar to the offspring of parents with NIDDM. We conclude that insulin-resistant offspring of parents with NIDDM have reduced nonoxidative glucose metabolism and muscle glycogen synthesis secondary to a defect in muscle glucose transport/hexokinase activity prior to the onset of overt hyperglycemia. The presence of this defect in these subjects suggests that it may be the primary factor in the pathogenesis of NIDDM.

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