Cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance in non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetes.

Academic Article


  • Recent studies have led to an enhanced understanding of cellular alterations that may play an important role in the pathophysiology of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). The insulin receptor links insulin binding at the cell surface to intracellular activation of insulin's effects. This transducer function involves the tyrosine kinase property of the beta-subunit of the receptor. It was found that adipocytes from subjects with NIDDM had a 50 to 80 percent reduction in insulin-stimulated receptor kinase activity compared with their non-diabetic counterparts. This defect was relatively specific for the diabetic state since no decrease was observed in insulin-resistant non-diabetic obese subjects. The reduction in kinase activity was accounted for by changes in the ratio of two pools of receptors, both of which bind insulin but only one of which is capable of tyrosine autophosphorylation and subsequent kinase activation; 43 percent of the receptors from non-diabetic subjects were capable of autophosphorylation compared with only 14 percent in the NIDDM group. A major component of cellular insulin resistance in NIDDM involves the glucose transport system. Exposure of cells to insulin normally results in enhanced glucose transport mediated by translocation of glucose transporters from a low-density microsomal intracellular pool to the plasma membrane. It was found that cells from NIDDM subjects had a marked depletion of glucose transporters in both plasma membranes and low-density microsomes, relative to obese non-diabetic control participants. Obese non-diabetic persons had a normal number of plasma membrane transporters but a reduced number of low-density microsome transporters in the basal state compared with lean control volunteers; insulin induced the translocation of relatively fewer transporters from the low-density microsome to the plasma membrane in the obese subgroups. In addition to the diminished number of glucose transporters, cells from both NIDDM and obese subjects had impaired functional activity of glucose carriers since decreased whole-cell glucose transport rates could not be entirely explained by the magnitude of the decrement in the number of plasma membrane transporters. Thus, impaired glucose transport is due to both a numerical and functional defect in glucose transporters. The cellular content of high-density microsomal transporters was the same in lean and obese control volunteers and NIDDM subjects, suggesting that transporter synthesis is normal and that cellular depletion results from increased protein turnover once transporters leave the high-density microsomal subfraction.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
  • Published In


  • Adipose Tissue, Adult, Biological Transport, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Glucose, Humans, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, In Vitro Techniques, Insulin, Insulin Resistance, Middle Aged, Obesity, Phosphorylation, Receptor, Insulin
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Olefsky JM; Garvey WT; Henry RR; Brillon D; Matthaei S; Freidenberg GR
  • Start Page

  • 86
  • End Page

  • 105
  • Volume

  • 85
  • Issue

  • 5A