Aims/hypothesis: TNF-alpha levels are increased in obesity and type 2 diabetes. The regulation of TNF-alpha converting enzyme (TACE) and its inhibitor, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP3), in human type 2 diabetes is unknown.
Methods: We examined TACE/TIMP3 regulation: (1) in lean and obese normal glucose tolerant (NGT) individuals and in type 2 diabetes patients; (2) following 6 h of lipid/saline infusion in NGT individuals; and (3) in cultured human myotubes from lean NGT individuals incubated with palmitate. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by a euglycaemic clamp and TACE/TIMP3 was evaluated by confocal microscopy, RT-PCR, western blotting and an in vitro activity assay. Circulating TNF-alpha, TNF-alpha-receptor 1 (TNFR1), TNF-alpha-receptor 2 (TNFR2), IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM) and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM) levels were evaluated.
Results: TIMP3 levels were reduced and TACE enzymatic activity was increased in type 2 diabetes skeletal muscle. TACE expression, and TACE, TNF-alpha, TNFR1 and IL-6R levels were increased in type 2 diabetes, and positively correlated with insulin resistance. A 6 h lipid infusion into NGT individuals decreased insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism by 25% with increased TACE, decreased expression of the gene encoding TIMP3 and increased IL-6R release. Palmitate induced a dramatic reduction of TIMP3 and increased the TACE/TIMP3 ratio in cultured myotubes.
Conclusions/interpretation: TACE activity was increased in skeletal muscle of obese type 2 diabetes patients and in lipid-induced insulin resistance. We propose that dysregulation of membrane proteolysis by TACE/TIMP3 of TNF-alpha and IL-6R is an important factor for the development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance in obese type 2 diabetes patients by a novel autocrine/paracrine mechanism.