The involvement of the gut hormone GIP (gastric inhibitory polypeptide, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) in the hyperinsulinemia of the adult obese Zucker rat was investigated. Glucose, insulin, and GIP responses to oral glucose were compared in lean and obese rats. The sensitivity of the isolated, perfused pancreas to glucose and GIP was studied in basal and hyperglycemie conditions in lean and obese rats. Immunocytochemical studies of the gut and pancreas were also carried out.

The glucose and GIP responses to oral glucose were similar in lean and obese rats, but obese animals were hyperinsulinemic compared with lean controls under fasting conditions and after oral glucose. The isolated, perfused pancreas of obese Zucker rats had an elevated insulin response to 300 mg/dl glucose. GIP increased the insulin response to 300 mg/dl glucose threefold in both lean and obese rats. At basal glucose levels (80 mg/dl), GIP augmented insulin release in obese but not in lean rats. Immunocytochemical studies demonstrated the presence of enlarged islets in obese rats due to an increase in the B-cell mass. A-, D-, and PP-cells appeared normal. Obese and lean rats had similar numbers of GIP-containing cells in the gut. This study suggests that GIP may contribute to the fasting hyperinsulinemia characteristic of adult obese Zucker rats. GIP infusion to achieve levels equivalent to those seen in the basal state are capable of stimulating insulin release in the absence of hyperglycemia in the obese rat, which suggests an impairment of the regulatory mechanisms controlling the glucose-dependent insulinotropic action of GIP in these animals.

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