The effect of insulin concentrations on the rates of glycolysis and glycogen synthesis in four different in vitro rat muscle preparations (intact soleus, stripped soleus, epitrochlearis, and hemi-diaphragm) were investigated: the concentrations of insulin that produced half-maximal stimulation of the rates of these two processes in the four muscle preparations were similar – about 100 μunits/ml. This is at least 10-fold greater than the concentration that produced half-maximal inhibition of lipolysis in isolated adipocytes. Since 100 μunits/ml insulin is outside the normal physiological range in the rat, it is suggested that, in vivo, insulin influences glucose utilization in muscle mainly indirectly, via changes in the plasma fatty acid levels and the ‘glucose/fatty acid cycle’. Consequently the view that insulin stimulates glucose utilization in muscle mainly by a direct effect on membrane transport must be treated with caution.

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