The effects of dithiothreitol on basal glucose oxidation, hormone-induced lipolysis and insulin receptors in isolated rat adipocytes were studied. Dithiothreitol produced a dose-dependent stimulation of basal glucose oxidation and inhibition of adrenaline-induced lipolysis. Dithiothreitol also inhibited corticotropin-induced lipolysis, but failed to inhibit dibutyryl cyclic AMP-induced lipolysis. Dithiothreitol did not inhibit the binding of the beta-adrenergic antagonist [3H]dihydroalprenolol to adipocytes. Neither catalase (100 micrograms/ml) nor EDTA (2 mM) abolished the antilipolytic effect of dithiothreitol. Treatment of isolated adipocytes with 1 mM-dithiothreitol for 20 min at 37 degrees C also caused stimulation of basal glucose oxidation and inhibition of adrenaline-induced lipolysis. A Scatchard plot of insulin binding to control adipocytes was curvilinear. However, treatment of cells with 1 mM-dithiothreitol decreased the curvilinearity of the plot, indicating that only a low-affinity state of the insulin receptors exists in the dithiothreitol-treated adipocytes. These findings suggest that the insulin-like activities of dithiothreitol are mediated through the interaction of dithiothreitol with insulin receptors.

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