1. The effects of hypothyroidism (caused by surgical thyroidectomy followed by treatment for 1 month with propylthiouracil) and of hyperthyroidism [induced by subcutaneous administration of L-tri-iodothyronine (T3)] on glucose tolerance and skeletal-muscle sensitivity to insulin were examined in rats. Glucose tolerance was estimated during 2 h after subcutaneous glucose injection (1 g/kg body wt.). The sensitivity of the soleus muscle to insulin was studied in vitro in sedentary and acutely exercised animals. 2. Glucose tolerance was impaired in both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid rats in comparison with euthyroid controls. 3. In the soleus muscle, responsiveness of the rate of lactate formation to insulin was abolished in hypothyroid rats, whereas the sensitivity of the rate of glycogen synthesis to insulin was unchanged. In hyperthyroid animals, opposite changes were found, i.e. responsiveness of the rate of glycogen synthesis was inhibited and the sensitivity of the rate of lactate production did not differ from that in control sedentary rats. 4. A single bout of exercise for 30 min potentiated the stimulatory effect of insulin on lactate formation in hyperthyroid rats and on glycogen synthesis in hypothyroid animals. 5. The data suggest that thyroid hormones exert an interactive effect with insulin in skeletal muscle. This is likely to be at the post-receptor level, inhibiting the effect of insulin on glycogen synthesis and stimulating oxidative glucose utilization.

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