Statistical studies repeatedly have shown an association between systemic insulin resistance and a preponderance of highly glycolytic, relatively insulin-insensitive muscle fibers as well as a low density of muscle capillaries. The nature of the relationship between these observations is, however, not clear. Female rats were made hyperinsulinemic for 7 days by implantation of osmotic minipumps. Elevated adrenergic activity and secretion of glucocorticoids were controlled by another minipump with propranolol and adrenalectomy was controlled with glucocorticoid substitution. This resulted in hyperinsulinemia and moderate hypoglycemia, the latter probably counteracted by overeating and increased glucagon secretion, as indicated by increased body weight and lower liver glycogen contents, respectively. Systemic insulin sensitivity was increased and measured with a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp technique. This was paralleled by an elevated glucose utilization estimated as uptake of 2-deoxyglucose in parametrial, retroperitoneal, and inguinal adipose tissues and the soleus and extensor digitorum longus muscles. Glycogen synthesis was also elevated in the soleus muscle. Muscle fiber composition changed with hyperinsulinemia and elevated 2-deoxyglucose uptake toward more fast-twitch, type II, particularly type IIb fibers, whereas the proportion of slow-twitch, type I fibers, diminished. Capillary density was elevated per unit muscle surface area as well as per muscle fiber. This was paralleled by increased insulin sensitivity systemically and in muscles. These results suggest that muscle fiber composition alterations may be a consequence rather than a cause of hyperinsulinemia and that capillarization rather than fiber composition is of importance for insulin sensitivity in muscle.

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