, Volume 39, Issue 12, pp 1477-1482

Dissociation between insulin sensitivity of glucose uptake and endothelial function in normal subjects

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Summary

Insulin increases limb blood flow in a time- and dose-dependent manner. This effect can be blocked by inhibiting nitric oxide synthesis. These data raise the possibility that insulin resistance is associated with endothelial dysfunction. To examine whether endothelial function and insulin sensitivity are interrelated we quantitated in vivo insulin-stimulated rates of whole body and forearm glucose uptake at a physiological insulin concentration (euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp, 1 mU · kg–1· min–1 insulin infusion for 2 h) and on another occasion, in vivo endothelial function (blood flow response to intrabrachial infusions of sodium nitroprusside, acetylcholine, and N-monomethyl-l-arginine) in 30 normal male subjects. Subjects were divided into an insulin-resistant (IR) and an insulin-sensitive (IS) group based on the median rate of whole body glucose uptake (31 ± 2 vs 48 ± 1 μmol · kg–1· min–1, p < 0.001). The IR and IS groups were matched for age, but the IR group had a slightly higher body mass index, percentage of body fat and blood pressure compared to the IS group. The IR group also had diminished insulin-stimulated glucose extraction (p < 0.05) compared to the IS group, while basal and insulin-stimulated forearm blood flow rates were identical. There was no difference between the IR and IS groups in the forearm blood flow response to endothelium-dependent (acetylcholine and N-monomethyl-l-arginine) or -independent (sodium nitroprusside) vasoactive drugs. In conclusion, the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake at physiological insulin concentrations and endothelium-dependent vasodilatation are distinct phenomena and do not necessarily coexist. [Diabetologia (1996) 39: 1477–1482]

Received: 31 May 1996 and in revised form: 10 July 1996