Aims/hypothesis: Early-onset type 2 diabetes is associated with marked visceral obesity and extreme insulin resistance, but its pathogenesis and response to treatment are not completely understood. We studied physical fitness, whole-body and hepatic glucose turnover, and insulin secretion in young obese Irish subjects before and after 3 months of aerobic exercise training. We hypothesised that exercise alone, with stable diet, should improve insulin sensitivity.
Materials and methods: Anthropometric parameters and maximum volume of oxygen utilisation (VO(2max)) were measured in 13 subjects with type 2 diabetes and 18 non-diabetic control subjects, matched for age and BMI. Insulin sensitivity and hepatic glucose turnover were measured using the hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp. Insulin secretion was assessed from an OGTT and a modified intravenous glucose tolerance test. Some subjects (seven type 2 diabetic, 14 non-diabetic control subjects) then completed a 12-week supervised aerobic exercise programme. All measurements were repeated on completion of the exercise programme.
Results: Type 2 diabetic subjects had higher WHR, systolic blood pressure and triacylglycerols than non-diabetic control subjects. They were significantly more insulin-resistant as measured both by the clamp and oral glucose insulin sensitivity. They also displayed marked defects in insulin secretion in response to oral and intravenous glucose challenges. Exercise intervention had no significant effect on whole-body or hepatic insulin sensitivity or insulin secretion. VO(2max) increased significantly in the non-diabetic control subjects, but not in the type 2 diabetic subjects after exercise training.
Conclusions/interpretation: Young obese subjects with type 2 diabetes are severely insulin-resistant with marked loss of beta cell function compared with control subjects matched for age and obesity. Neither group responded metabolically to aerobic exercise intervention.