Endothelial dysfunction and vascular insulin resistance coexist and both contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and increased cardiovascular risks. Insulin relaxes precapillary arterioles to increase insulin delivery to and action in muscle via recruiting muscle microvasculature and this action is impaired in the insulin resistant states. Metformin is the first line therapy for T2DM and has been shown to improve endothelial function beyond its hypoglycemic effects. Here we aim to examine whether metformin could restore vascular insulin responses in the setting of insulin resistance induced by high fat diet (HFD) feeding via the modulation of endothelial function. Adult, male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed on HFD with or without metformin treatment for 2 weeks. A chow fed group served as control. After dietary intervention, rats were fasted overnight and received a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp for 120 min. Insulin-mediated muscle microvascular recruitment was assessed before and during insulin infusion using contrast-enhanced ultrasound. Distal saphenous artery was isolated and used for determination of endothelial function and vascular insulin responses. Compared with controls, HFD feeding abolished insulin-induced muscle microvascular recruitment in muscle, decreased insulin-mediated whole body glucose disposal and blunted the vasodilatory response to insulin in small resistance vessel. Metformin treatment significantly enhanced insulin’s microvascular action, effectively rescued small arteriole endothelial function, but did not improve insulin-stimulated whole body glucose disposal in HFD rats. We conclude that metformin could reverse microvascular insulin resistance and attenuate endothelial dysfunction induced by HFD feeding. There findings may provide a novel mechanistic insight into metformin’s cardiovascular protective effect in patients with diabetes.


J. Liu: None. W. Chai: None. L. Gong: None. K.W. Aylor: None. Z. Liu: None.


American Diabetes Association (1-17-ICTS-059 to Z.L.); National Institutes of Health (R01HL094722, R01DK102359)

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