In response to insulin, several proteins are phosphorylated on tyrosine and on serine/threonine residues. Decreased phosphorylation of signaling peptides by a defective insulin receptor kinase may be a cause of insulin resistance. Accordingly, inhibition of the appropriate phosphatases might increase the phosphorylation state of these signaling peptides and thereby elicit increased glucose transport. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of the serine/threonine phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid and the tyrosine phosphatase inhibitors phenylarsine oxide and vanadate on 2-deoxyglucose transport in insulin-resistant human skeletal muscle. All three phosphatase inhibitors stimulated 2-deoxyglucose transport in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle. These data suggest that these compounds have bypassed a defect in at least one of the signaling pathways leading to glucose transport. Furthermore, maximal transport rates induced by the simultaneous presence of insulin and phosphatase inhibitor in insulin-resistant muscle were equal to insulin-stimulated rates in lean control subjects. However, both vanadate alone and vanadate plus insulin stimulated 2-deoxyglucose transport significantly more in insulin-sensitive tissue than in insulin-resistant tissue. These results demonstrate that although vanadate is able to stimulate glucose transport in insulin-resistant muscle, it is not able to normalize transport to the same rate achieved in insulin-sensitive muscle.

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