The aim of the present thesis was to further increase our understanding of mechanisms contributing to and maintaining cellular insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes (T2D). For this reason, the effects of high glucose and insulin levels on glucose transport capacity and insulin signaling, with emphasis on insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1) were assessed in fat cells. Altered levels of IRS-1 have previously been observed in adipose tissue from insulin-resistant and T2D subjects.
A high glucose level (≥15 mM) for 24 h exerted only a minor impairment on glucose transport capacity in human adipocytes, as opposed to rat adipocytes. However, when combined with a high insulin level (104 µU/ml), basal and insulin-stimulated glucose transport was significantly impaired in both human and rat adipocytes. This was associated with a depletion of IRS-1 and IRS-2 protein levels in rat adipocytes, as a result of post-translational changes and altered gene transcription, respectively. In human adipocytes was only IRS-1 protein levels reduced. The high glucose/high insulin setting achieved maximal impairment of glucose transport within 6 h. Subsequent incubations of rat adipocytes under physiological conditions could partially restore insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, in both human and rat fat cells, decreased levels of IRSs occurred after the establishment of impaired glucose transport, suggesting that the observed depletion of IRSs is a consequence rather than a cause of insulin resistance. Nonetheless, IRS depletion is likely to further aggravate insulin resistance.
Tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-1 upon insulin stimulation activates the signaling pathway that mediates glucose transport. Pre-treatment of human adipocytes with high glucose and insulin levels was not associated with any alterations in the total IRS-1 Tyr612 phosphorylation following 10 min insulin stimulation. However, a significant increase in basal Tyr612 phosphorylation was observed. Furthermore, a rise in basal IRS-1 Ser312 phosphorylation was found. This is associated with reduced IRS-1 function and is considered to target IRS-1 to degradation pathways, and thus could potentially explain the observed decrease in IRS-1 protein levels. Our results imply an enhanced activation of insulin’s negative-feedback control mechanism that inhibit IRS-1 function. This could potentially have contributed to the observed impairment of insulin action on glucose transport in these cells. Accordingly, we have also shown that the downstream activation of protein kinase B upon insulin-stimulation is significantly impaired in human adipocytes exposed to the high glucose/high insulin setting, indicating a defect in the signaling pathway mediating glucose transport.
We also investigated whether there are humoral factors in the circulation of T2D patients that contribute to peripheral insulin resistance. Human adipocytes cultured for 24 h in medium supplemented with 25% serum from T2D subjects, as compared to serum from non-diabetic subjects, displayed significantly reduced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake capacity. The effect could neither be attributed to glucose, insulin, FFA, TNF-α or IL-6 levels in the serum, but other circulating factor(s) seem to be of importance.
In conclusion, chronic conditions of elevated glucose and/or insulin levels all impair insulin action on glucose turnover, but to different extents. A clear distinction between rat and human fat cells in the response to these different milieus was also observed. Alterations in the function of the key insulin signaling protein IRS-1 might be involved in the mechanisms underlying the impaired glucose uptake capacity. IRS-1 reduction however, occurs after but probably aggravates the existing insulin resistance. The effects of high glucose and/or insulin levels may be of importance in T2D, but additional novel factors present in the circulation of T2D patients seem to contribute to cellular insulin resistance.
Umeå: Folkhälsa och klinisk medicin , 2007. , 60 p.
adipocyte, insulin signaling, insulin, glucose, IRS-1, glucose uptake, insulin resistance, typ 2 diabetes, serum
2007-04-27, Betula, 6M, Norrlands Universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Eriksson, Jan, Prof. MD