OBJECTIVE: Troglitazone was recently reported to specifically promote the differentiation of pre-adipocytes into adipocytes in vitro in subcutaneous fat only, indicating a relation to insulin-resistance-improving action of troglitazone. To expand on this finding, we investigated at the clinical level how long-term administration of troglitazone influences the body fat distribution in type 2 diabetic patients. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Troglitazone (400 mg/day) was administered for 6 months to 30 type 2 diabetic patients whose glycemic control was poor. A total of 18 patients received diet therapy alone (in the single-treatment group, BMI 26.0 +/- 4.6, HbA1c 8.2 +/- 1.7%), and 12 patients concomitantly received glibenclamide (1.25-7.5 mg/day) (in the concomitant sulfonylurea group, BMI 25.4 +/- 4.7, HbA1c 9.2 +/- 1.2%). BMI, HbA1c, serum lipid level, and body fat distribution, which were determined by computed tomography (CT) scan at the umbilical level, were measured and compared before and after troglitazone treatment. RESULTS: During the 6-month troglitazone treatment, HbA1c levels decreased and BMI increased in both groups. As for body fat distribution in the single-treatment group, visceral fat area (VFA) decreased (from 118.3 +/- 54.3 to 101.1 +/- 50.8 cm2; P < 0.001), and subcutaneous fat area (SFA) increased (from 189.7 +/- 93.3 to 221.6 +/- 101.6 cm2; P < 0.001), resulting in a decrease in visceral/subcutaneous (V/S) ratio (from 0.74 +/- 0.48 to 0.50 +/- 0.32; P < 0.001). In the concomitant sulfonylurea group, VFA was unchanged (from 108.1 +/- 53.5 to 112.5 +/- 59.9 cm2), while SFA increased (from 144.6 +/- 122.0 to 180.5 +/- 143.5 cm2; P < 0.01), thereby decreasing the V/S ratio (from 0.91 +/- 0.46 to 0.77 +/- 0.44; P < 0.01). The serum triglyceride level and the area under glucose curve during the 75-g oral glucose tolerance test decreased significantly in the single-treatment group. CONCLUSIONS: According to our data, troglitazone appears to promote fat accumulation in the subcutaneous adipose tissue rather than in the visceral adipose tissue in mildly obese Japanese people with type 2 diabetes. This shift of energy accumulation from the visceral to subcutaneous adipose tissue may greatly contribute to the troglitazone-mediated amelioration of insulin resistance.

This content is only available via PDF.