To examine whether impairment of intracellular glucose metabolism precedes insulin resistance, we determined the time courses of changes in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, glycolysis, and glycogen synthesis during high-fat feeding in rats. Animals were fed with a high-fat (66.5%) diet ad libitum for 0, 2, 4, 7, or 14 days (n = 10–11 in each group) after 5 days of a low-fat (12.5%) diet. Submaximal and maximal insulin-stimulated glucose fluxes were estimated in whole body and individual skeletal muscles using the glucose clamp technique combined with D-[3-3H]glucose infusion and 2-[1-14C]deoxyglucose injection. Both submaximal and maximal insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in whole body decreased gradually with high-fat feeding. However, the decreases were minimal and not statistically significant during the initial few days (i.e., 2 and 4 days) of high-fat feeding (P > 0.05). In contrast, insulin-stimulated whole-body glycolysis (both maximal and submaximal) significantly decreased by ∼30% with 2 days of high-fat feeding and remained suppressed thereafter (P < 0.05). Similar patterns of changes in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and glycolysis were also observed in skeletal muscle. Insulin-stimulated glycogen synthesis and glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P) concentrations in skeletal muscle increased significantly during the initial few days of high-fat feeding and gradually returned to control levels by day 14, suggesting that increased G-6-P concentrations were responsible for increased glycogen synthesis. Thus, suppression of insulin-stimulated glycolysis and a compensatory increase in glycogen synthesis (presumably arising from the glucose-fatty acid cycle) preceded decreases in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle during high-fat feeding. These findings suggest that the insulin resistance may develop as a secondary response to impaired intracellular glucose metabolism.

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