We have examined the effect of chronic (20 days) oral administration of benfluorex (35 mg/kg) in a rat model of NIDDM, induced by injection of STZ 5 days after birth and characterized by frank hyperglycemia, hypoinsulinemia, and hepatic and peripheral insulin resistance. We assessed the following: 1) basal blood glucose and insulin levels, 2) glucose tolerance and glucose-induced insulin release in vivo and in vitro, and 3) basal and insulin-stimulated in vivo glucose production and glucose utilization, using the insulin-clamp technique in conjunction with isotopic measurement of glucose turnover. The in vivo insulin response of several individual tissues also was evaluated under the steady-state conditions of the clamp, using the uptake of the glucose analogue 2-deoxy-D-glucose as a relative index of glucose metabolism. In the benfluorex-treated diabetic rats, postabsorptive basal plasma glucose levels were decreased (8.1 ± 0.2 mM compared with 10.5 ± 0.5 mM in the pair-fed untreated diabetic rats and 6.1 ± 0.2 mM in the benfluorex-treated nondiabetic rats), whereas the basal and glucose-stimulated intravenous glucose tolerance test plasma insulin levels were not improved. Such a lack of improvement in the glucose-induced insulin release after benfluorex treatment was confirmed under in vitro conditions (perfused pancreas). In the pair-fed untreated diabetic rats, the basal glucose production and overall glucose utilization were significantly increased, and during hyperinsulinemia both liver and peripheral tissues revealed insulin resistance. In the benfluorex-treated diabetic rats, the basal glucose production and basal overall glucose utilization were normalized. After hyperinsulinemia, glucose production was normally suppressed, whereas overall glucose utilization was not significantly improved. Among the range of peripheral tissues investigated, only brown adipose tissue showed a significant increase in glucose utilization after benfluorex treatment. Because benfluorex exerts a predominant action on the liver in the this rat model of diabetes, and because increased basal hepatic glucose output is a major metabolic abnormality and is responsible for much of the elevated fasting blood glucose levels in NIDDM, the use of such a compound in NIDDM may be potentially relevant.

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