Human T-lymphocytes activated by phytohemagglutin acquire insulin receptors in culture. Saturation analysis of insulin-binding activity in the presence of competing ligand revealed curvilinear Scatchard plots. Insulin receptorswere not regulated by insulin before mitogen activation and culture of T-lymphocytes. However, insulin-induced downregulation of insulin receptors was: (1) demonstrable in receptor-positive cells, (2) dependent on insulin concentration, (3) temporally unrelated to insulin internalization, and (4) prevented by culture at 4°C but not by cycloheximide at 37°C. Recovery of insulin receptors required further culture of cells in media depleted of insulin for 24 h. Scatchard analysis revealed loss of receptor number without changes in receptor affinity.
Insulin-induced increases in glucose transport and oxidation were demonstrable in receptor-positive cells but not in receptor-negative cells. However, these effects were extremely time-dependent. After a 2-h exposure of cells to 10−8 M insulin, increases in glucose transport were no longer demonstrable. Elution of bound insulin from these cells followed by re-exposure to insulin depressed glucose transport in them. Recovery from this hyporesponsive, desensitized state required a 6-h culture in insulin-depleted media. Glucose oxidation of desensitized cells couldbe stimulated by spermihe but not by insulin. These studies demonstrate the activated human T-lymphocyte is an insulinsensitive tissue that is capable of limiting its physiologic response to insulin by receptor- and postreceptor-mediated mechanisms.