Insulin-Stimulated Muscle Glucose Uptake and Insulin Signaling in Lean and Obese Humans

Paola A. Ramos, Kelli A. Lytle, Danae Delivanis, Søren Nielsen, Nathan K. Lebrasseur, Michael D. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Skeletal muscle is the primary site for insulin-stimulated glucose disposal, and muscle insulin resistance is central to abnormal glucose metabolism in obesity. Whether muscle insulin signaling to the level of Akt/AS160 is intact in insulin-resistant obese humans is controversial. Methods: We defined a linear range of insulin-stimulated systemic and leg glucose uptake in 14 obese and 14 nonobese volunteers using a 2-step insulin clamp (Protocol 1) and then examined the obesity-related defects in muscle insulin action in 16 nonobese and 25 obese male and female volunteers matched for fitness using a 1-step, hyperinsulinemic, euglycemic clamp coupled with muscle biopsies (Protocol 2). Results: Insulin-stimulated glucose disposal (Si) was reduced by > 60% (P < 0.0001) in the obese group in Protocol 2; however, the phosphorylation of Akt and its downstream effector AS160 were not different between nonobese and obese groups. The increase in phosphorylation of Akt2 in response to insulin was positively correlated with Si for both the nonobese (r = 0.53, P = 0.03) and the obese (r = 0.55, P = 0.01) groups. Total muscle GLUT4 protein was 17% less (P < 0.05) in obese subjects. Conclusions: We suggest that reduced muscle glucose uptake in obesity is not due to defects in the insulin signaling pathway at the level of Akt/AS160, which suggests there remain significant gaps in our knowledge of muscle insulin resistance in obesity. Our data imply that models of acute lipotoxicity do not replicate the pathophysiology of obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1631-E1646
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • Akt signaling
  • glucose uptake
  • insulin clamp
  • insulin resistance
  • obesity
  • skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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