Severe resistance to subcutaneous insulin but sensitivity to intravenous insulin persisted for 15 months in a 17-year-old diabetic girl. Heat-labile insulin-degrading activity was present in the patient's ketotic sera and in the 100,000 g fraction (soluble fraction) of adipose tissue. Serum-degrading activity was not inhibited by N-ethylmaleimide. The soluble fraction also degraded glucagon and B chain but not growth hormone or myoglobin. It was inhibited by incubation with the patient's nonketotic sera, normal sera, or Trasylol. Glutathione-insulintranshydrogenase (GIT) activity was 66% of normal.
The biopsy of adipose tissue at remission showed a normal level of insulin- and glucagon-degrading activity. The activity was eluted from Sephadex G200 as a single peak and had properties consistent with those of the insulin-specific protease (ISP).
The increased degrading activity present during insulin resistance had properties not shared with ISP, suggesting the presence of an uncharacterized protease.