New Probes to Study Insulin Resistance in Men; Futile Cycle and Glucose Turnover

  • Mladen Vranic
  • Alexandre Wajngot
  • Suad Efendic
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 189)


Insulin resistance has been measured in man by nonsteady state tracer methodology. Increase in overall glucose utilization and suppression of glucose production was measured when hyperglycemia was achieved either by infusing glucagon or glucose. With the first method, insulin resistance was assessed in obese man and in lean hypertriglyceridemic patients. With the second method, insulin resistance was assessed in lean mild type II diabetics. These methodologies can only assess deficiences in overall glucose utilization and glucose production, but cannot delineate the defect in glucose uptake by the liver. However, if a given metabolic event is essentially characteristic of only one organ, metabolic abnormalities specific to that organ can be detected in vivo provided there is a probe specific to that metabolic pathway. Therefore, in lean mild type II diabetics the liver glucose futile cycle was assessed by a double tracer method. Previously it was shown that liver glucose futile cycling is increased in diabetic dogs. In healthy control subjects in basal state and during glucose infusion, the futile cycle could not be detected, but it represented a major part of glucose metabolism in liver of type II diabetics. It appears, therefore, that most of the glucose taken up by the liver during the glucose challenge in diabetics reenters the blood stream without being oxidized or polymerized. On the basis of these studies, it was concluded that excessive hyperglycemia in the diabetics during glucose infusion is due to a decrease in irreversible glucose uptake (impaired phosphorylation and futile cycling) and to a decrease in suppression of glucose production. The relative contribution of the liver and periphery to hyperglycemia seems to be almost equivalent. The mechanism behind the increased glucose cycle activity is not clear. It may be due to a relative decrease of glycogen synthase or increase in glucose-6-phosphatase or both. These observations in mild lean type II diabetics may have implications also in some other types of diabetes, since we have observed that futile cycling is even more marked in obese type II diabetics and that it could account in part for the diabetogenic effect of growth hormone in acromegalics.


Insulin Resistance Glucose Production Glucose Infusion Futile Cycle Glucose Phosphorylation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mladen Vranic
    • 1
  • Alexandre Wajngot
    • 2
  • Suad Efendic
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Physiology and MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of EndocrinologyKarolinska HospitalStockholmSweden

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