1. The effect of insulin upon glucose transport and metabolism in soleus muscles of genetically obese (fa/fa) and heterozygote lean Zucker rats was investigated at 5–6 weeks and 10–11 weeks of age. Weight-standardized strips of soleus muscles were used rather than the intact muscle in order to circumvent problems of diffusion of substrates. 2. In younger obese rats (5–6 weeks), plasma concentrations of immunoreactive insulin were twice those of controls, whereas their circulating triacylglycerol concentrations were normal. Insulin effects upon 2-deoxyglucose uptake and glucose metabolism by soleus muscles of these rats were characterized by both a decreased sensitivity and a decrease in the maximal response of this tissue to the hormone. 3. In older obese rats (10–11 weeks), circulating concentrations of insulin and triacylglycerols were both abnormally elevated. A decrease of 25–35% in insulin-binding capacity to muscles of obese rats was observed. The soleus muscles from the older obese animals also displayed decreased sensitivity and maximal response to insulin. However, at a low insulin concentration (0.1m-i.u./ml), 2-deoxyglucose uptake by muscles of older obese rats was stimulated, but such a concentration was ineffective in stimulating glucose incorporation into glycogen, and glucose metabolism by glycolysis. 4. Endogenous lipid utilization by muscle was calculated from the measurements of O2 consumption, and glucose oxidation to CO2. The rate of utilization of fatty acids was normal in muscles of younger obese animals, but increased in those of the older obese rats. Increased basal concentrations of citrate, glucose 6-phosphate and glycogen were found in muscles of older obese rats and may reflect intracellular inhibition of glucose metabolism as a result of increased lipid utilization. 5. Thus several abnormalities are responsible for insulin resistance of muscles from obese Zucker rats among which we have observed decreased insulin binding, decreased glucose transport and increased utilization of endogenous fatty acid which could inhibit glucose utilization.

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