Evidence for a Major Role of Skeletal Muscle Lipolysis in the Regulation of Lipid Oxidation During Caloric Restriction In Vivo
A lipolytic process in skeletal muscle has recently been demonstrated. However, the physiological importance of this process is unknown. We investigated the role of skeletal muscle lipolysis for lipid utilization during caloric restriction in eight obese women before and after 11 days of very low–calorie diet (VLCD) (2.2 MJ per day). Subjects were studied with indirect calorimetry and microdialysis of skeletal muscle and adipose tissue in order to analyze substrate utilization and glycerol (lipolysis index) in connection with a two-step euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic (12 and 80 mU/m2 · min) clamp. Local blood flow rates in the two tissues were determined with 133Xe-clearance. Circulating free fatty acids and glycerol decreased to a similar extent during insulin infusion before and during VLCD, and there was a less marked insulin-induced reduction in lipid oxidation during VLCD. Adipose tissue glycerol release was hampered by insulin infusion to the same extent (∼40%) before and during VLCD. Skeletal muscle glycerol release was not influenced by insulin before VLCD. However, during VLCD insulin caused a marked (fivefold) (P < 0.01) increase in skeletal muscle glycerol release. The effect was accompanied by a fourfold stimulation of skeletal muscle blood flow (P < 0.01). We propose that, during short-term caloric restriction, the reduced ability of insulin to inhibit lipids, despite a preserved antilipolytic effect of the hormone in adipose tissue, is caused by an augmented mobilization of fat from skeletal muscle, and that a physiological role of muscle lipolysis provides a local source of fatty acids.