Aims/hypothesis: The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between intramyocytic triglycerides levels, muscle TNF-alpha and GLUT4 expression and insulin resistance.
Methods: Insulin sensitivity was studied in 14 severely obese women (BMI>40 kg/m(2)), before and 6 months after low-dietary intake or bariatric malabsorptive surgery (bilio-pancreatic diversion, BPD), by the euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp technique, while the amount of intramyocytic triglycerides was chemically measured in needle muscle biopsies. Using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis, the muscle mRNA expression of TNF-alpha and GLUT4 was also investigated.
Results: The weight loss after surgery was 25.98+/-5.81 kg (P<0.001), while that obtained with the diet was 5.07+/-5.99 kg (P=NS). Marked decrease in TNF-alpha mRNA levels (76.67+/-12.59 to 14.01+/-5.21 AU, P<0.001) were observed in comparison with pre-treatment, whereas GLUT4 was significantly increased (62.25+/-11.77-124.25+/-21.01 AU, P<0.001) only in BPD patients. Increased glucose uptake (M) was accompanied by a significant decrease of TNF-alpha mRNA (76.67+/-12.59-14.01+/-5.21 AU, P<0.01) and an increase of GLUT4. The amounts of TNF-alpha mRNAs in skeletal muscle correlated inversely with GLUT4 mRNAs and directly with intramyocytic triglycerides levels. In a step-down regression analysis (r(2)=0.95) TNFalpha mRNA (P=0.0014), muscular TG levels (P=0.018), and GLUT4 mRNA (P=0.028) resulted to be the most powerful independent variables for predicting M values.
Conclusion/interpretation: These findings suggest that insulin resistance in morbidly obese patients is positively associated to the intramyocytic triglycerides content and to TNF-alpha gene expression and inversely correlated to GLUT4 expression.