Impaired glucose transport as a cause of decreased insulin-stimulated muscle glycogen synthesis in type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance, a major factor in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus, is due mostly to decreased stimulation of glycogen synthesis in muscle by insulin. The primary rate-controlling step responsible for the decrease in muscle glycogen synthesis is not known, although hexokinase activity and glucose transport have been implicated. We used a novel nuclear magnetic resonance approach with carbon-13 and phosphorus-31 to measure intramuscular glucose, glucose-6-phosphate, and glycogen concentrations under hyperglycemic conditions (plasma glucose concentration, approximately 180 mg per deciliter [10 mmol per liter]) and hyperinsulinemic conditions in six patients with type 2 diabetes and seven normal subjects. In vivo microdialysis of muscle tissue was used to determine the gradient between plasma and interstitial-fluid glucose concentrations, and open-flow microperfusion was used to determine the concentrations of insulin in interstitial fluid. The time course and concentration of insulin in interstitial fluid were similar in the patients with diabetes and the normal subjects. The rates of whole-body glucose metabolism and muscle glycogen synthesis and the glucose-6-phosphate concentrations in muscle were approximately 80 percent lower in the patients with diabetes than in the normal subjects under conditions of matched plasma insulin concentrations. The mean (+/-SD) intracellular glucose concentration was 2.0+/-8.2 mg per deciliter (0.11+/-0.46 mmol per liter) in the normal subjects. In the patients with diabetes, the intracellular glucose concentration was 4.3+/-4.9 mg per deciliter (0.24+/-0.27 mmol per liter), a value that was 1/25 of what it would be if hexokinase were the rate-controlling enzyme in glucose metabolism. Impaired insulin-stimulated glucose transport is responsible for the reduced rate of insulin-stimulated muscle glycogen synthesis in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.