Studies of experimental diabetes in rodents induced by the β-cell toxin streptozocin have shown that the insulin-resistant glucose transport of peripheral tissues (muscle and adipose) in these animals can be ascribed in part to a pretranslational reduction of the major insulin-sensitive glucose transporter (GLUT4) in these tissues. Because a central feature of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is an impaired ability of insulin to enhance glucose disposal in skeletal muscle, we examined the hypothesis that reduced expression of GLUT4 is a characteristic finding in the skeletal muscle of subjects with NIDDM. Biopsies of skeletal muscles were obtained from 17 patients with NIDDM and 10 lean and 9 obese nondiabetic subjects. Among the diabetic subjects, 7 were newly diagnosed and untreated. Compared with age-matched and body-weight-matched healthy control subjects, there was no significant alteration in the level of GLUT4 mRNA demonstrated by Northern blot and slot blot or GLUT4 protein determined by immunoblotting muscle membranes. Neither GLUT4 mRNA nor protein concentration correlated with the degree of glycemic control, fasting plasma insulin or glucose, diabetes duration, body mass index, sex, or age. GLUT1 mRNA and protein levels were also not significantly different between diabetic and matched control subjects. Thus, unlike streptozocin-induced diabetes in rodents, there is no evidence that impaired expression of the major insulin-responsive glucose transporter is responsible for insulin-resistant glucose transport in the skeletal muscle of these lean and moderately obese NIDDM patients.

This content is only available via PDF.