Mechanisms of insulin resistance in human obesity: evidence for receptor and postreceptor defects

The Journal of Clinical Investigation
O G KoltermanJ M Olefsky


To assess the mechanisms of the insulin resistance in human obesity, we have determined, using a modification of the euglycemic glucose clamp technique, the shape of the in vivo insulin-glucose disposal dose-response curves in 7 control and 13 obese human subjects. Each subject had at least three euglycemic studies performed at insulin infusion rates of 15, 40, 120, 240, or 1,200 mU/M2/min. The glucose disposal rate was decreased in all obese subjects compared with controls (101 +/- 16 vs. 186 +/- 16 mg/M2/min) during the 40 mU/M2/min insulin infusion. The mean dose-response curve for the obese subjects was displaced to the right, i.e., the half-maximally effective insulin concentration was 270 +/- 27 microU/ml for the obese compared with 130 +/- 10 microU/ml for controls. In nine of the obese subjects, the dose-response curves were shifted to the right, and maximal glucose disposal rates (at a maximally effective insulin concentration) were markedly decreased, indicating both a receptor and a postreceptor defect. On the other hand, four obese patients had right-shifted dose-response curves but reached normal maximal glucose disposal rates, consistent with decreased insulin receptors as the only abnormality. When the individual...Continue Reading


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