We postulated that dietary protein utilization and body protein metabolism are altered in hyperglycemic individuals with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). This was tested by estimating the kinetics of protein metabolism in obese NIDDM patients in the hyperglycemic state of isoenergetic feeding and in the normoglycemic state induced by the prolonged use of a very-low-energy diet (VLED) and comparing them with results in obese nondiabetic subjects studied previously. Seven obese subjects with NIDDM (one male, six females, body mass index = 35.8 ± 2.0 kg/m2) were given a 1.7 MJ (410 kcal) all protein (93 g/day) diet derived from hydrolyzed collagen and supplemented with tryptophan and methionine, which provides 16% of its amino acids as essential, a multivitamin and mineral supplement, and 16 mmol KCl for 42 days. During the seven-day isoenergetic diet and at weeks 4 and 6 of the VLED, amino nitrogen (N) flux rate was calculated from the urine [15N]urea enrichment by using the 60-h oral [15N]glycine method to obtain the integrated feeding-fasting metabolism. Rates of synthesis (S) and breakdown (B) were calculated from N flux. At day 7 of the isoenergetic diet, whole-body N flux, S, B, and resting metabolic rate (RMR) were 12–24% greater (P < 0.05) in the NIDDM subjects than observed in nondiabetic obese subjects. Mean plasma glucose decreased (P < 0.05) from the isoenergetic period (14.9 ± 2.4 mM) to 7.2 ± 1.2 mM at week 4 and 6.5 ± 1.1 mM at week 6 of the VLED. RMR declined progressively by 25% at week 5 of the VLED. Corresponding significant (P < 0.05) decreases from isoenergetic feeding to weeks 4 and 6 of the VLED occurred in whole-body N flux (from 51 ± 2 to 42 ± 1 g N/day), in S (from 38 ± 3 to 24 ± 1 g N/day), and in B (from 39 ± 3 to 26 ± 1 g N/day) resulting in net losses (S – B). S – B was significantly more negative (P < 0.05) in NIDDM than in the nondiabetic obese subjects at week 4 (−1.5 ± 0.5 vs. 0.9 ± 0.3 g N/day) but not at week 6 (−1.3 ± 0.4 vs. −0.9 ± 4 g N/day). During the VLED, N balance became less negative with time but never reached equilibrium in NIDDM. Thus, abnormal protein metabolism is present in NIDDM in the isoenergetic fed state with moderate hyperglycemia and persists during a VLED that restores glycemia to near normal.

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