To determine whether muscle fiber composition and capillary density differed between diabetic and nondiabetic subjects.


Muscle fiber composition and capillary density were determined in biopsies from women and men with non-insulindependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and compared with those of control subjects matched for gender, age, obesity, and the waist-to-hip ratio, which are all factors known to influence muscle morphology.


Patients with NIDDM, as well as control subjects with abdominal obesity and insulin resistance, showed the same abnormalities in muscle morphology, namely, a low percentage of type I fibers, elevated type II (particularly type IIB) fibers, and a low capillary density. These changes correlated closely with insulin concentrations in both diabetic and nondiabetic groups.


Recent information suggests that insulin may regulate myosin synthesis in muscle in the direction of the changes observed. Therefore, it is possible that muscle fiber composition abnormalities in insulin-resistant conditions are secondary to hyperinsulinemia. However, the low capillary density, hypothetically, may contribute to insulin resistance.

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