Obesity is associated with metabolic and microvascular insulin resistance. The latter is characterized by impaired insulin-mediated microvascular recruitment. GLP-1 engenders vasodilation in addition to its glycemic actions. At physiological concentrations, GLP-1 acutely recruits skeletal and cardiac muscle microvasculature in healthy humans and this action is preserved in the insulin resistant rodents.

To examine whether GLP-1 recruits microvasculature and improves insulin’s action in obese humans, 15 obese adults (age 27 ± 2.2, BMI 33.7 ± 1.2) were studied thrice at random order after an overnight fast. Subjects received an intravenous infusion of GLP-1 (1.2 pmol/kg/min) for 150 mins or an intravenous infusion of either normal saline or GLP-1 (1.2 pmol/kg/min) for 150 mins with a euglycemic insulin clamp (1 mU/kg/min) superimposed over the last 120 mins. Skeletal and cardiac muscle microvascular blood volume (MBV), flow velocity (MFV) and blood flow (MBF) were determined at 0, 30 and 150 min. Steady-state glucose infusion rate (GIR) was calculated.

Insulin infusion alone did not change MBV or MBF in either skeletal or cardiac muscle, confirming the presence of microvascular insulin resistance. GLP-1 infusion alone increased MBV by ∼30% and ∼40% in skeletal and cardiac muscle respectively (p<0.05) without affecting MFV, leading to a significant increase in MBF in both skeletal and cardiac muscle. Superimposition of insulin infusion to GLP-1 infusion did not further increase MBV or MBF in either skeletal or cardiac muscle, but raised the steady-state GIR from 4.1± 0.4 to 5.0 ± 0.5 mg/kg/min (p<0.05).

We conclude that in obese humans with microvascular insulin resistance GLP-1's vasodilatory actions are preserved in both skeletal and cardiac muscle microvasculature. This may contribute to improving metabolic responses to insulin and decreasing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality associated with obesity and diabetes.


N. Wang: None. A. Tan: None. L. Jahn: None. L. Hartline: None. K.W. Aylor: None. E. Barrett: None. Z. Liu: None.

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