We evaluated the possibility that impaired insulin-receptor kinase activity contributes to insulin resistance by examining in vitro receptor tyrosine kinase activity and in situ receptor phosphorylation in four models of insulin resistance. Adipocytes from streptozocin-induced nonketotic diabetic (STZ-D), glucocorticoid-treated, fasted, and chronically uremic rats showed reduced basal and maximally insulin-stimulated 2-deoxy-d-glucose transport compared with matched controls. Adipocytes from these models were also resistant to stimulation of hexose transport by hydrogen peroxide, a postbinding insulin mimicker. Changes in the number of insulin receptors per cell could not account for these alterations in transport. Cell surface 125I-labeled insulin binding was 142% of control in STZ-D and 129% with fasting and unchanged in glucocorticoid excess and chronic uremia. Insulin-stimulated tyrosine kinase was measured by means of a synthetic substrate, Glu80Tyr20. Partially purified receptors from these resistant models had unaltered kinase activity when normalized to soluble 125I-insulin binding. In situ stimulation of receptor phosphorylation by 7 and 100 nM insulin was determined after equilibration of adipocytes with 32PO4. Compared with matched controls, these intact cells, from all four resistant models, had insulin-stimulated receptor phosphorylation that was unchanged per unit of cell surface binding. Similar to results with insulin, hydrogen peroxide stimulation of in situ receptor phosphorylation was unchanged in each model. Thus, both in vitro and in situ measures of receptor phosphorylation suggest that the cellular alterations leading to insulin resistance in these adipocytes resides beyond phosphorylation of the insulin receptor.

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