Context: Lipotoxicity (increased tissue fat content) has been implicated in the development of muscle insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
Objective: The aim was to study the effect of pioglitazone on intramyocellular fat metabolism.
Research design: Twenty-four T2DM subjects (glycosylated hemoglobin = 8.3 +/- 0.4%) participated in three similar study protocols before and after 4 months of 45 mg/d pioglitazone treatment: 1) 3-h euglycemic insulin (80 mU/m(2) . min) clamp with measurement of intramyocellular fat with proton nuclear magnetic resonance; 2) vastus lateralis muscle biopsy for measurement of LC-FACoAs 60 min before start of the insulin clamp; and 3) muscle biopsy for measurement of diacylglycerol 60 min before start of the insulin clamp.
Results: In all three protocols, pioglitazone similarly reduced (all P < 0.05) the glycosylated hemoglobin (Delta = 0.8-1.2%), fasting plasma glucose (39-76 mg/dl), fasting free fatty acid (132-236 mumol/liter), and increased insulin-stimulated glucose disposal (by 25-56%). Intramyocellular fat (protocol I) declined from 1.5 to 0.9% (P < 0.05) and correlated with the increase in glucose disposal rate (r = 0.65; P < 0.05). Long chain-fatty acyl-coenzyme A decreased from 12.5 to 8.1 nmol/g (P < 0.05) and correlated with the increase in disposal rate (r = 0.76; P < 0.05). Pioglitazone therapy had no effect on muscle diacylglycerol content.
Conclusions: Pioglitazone improves insulin resistance in T2DM in association with mobilization of fat and toxic lipid metabolites out of muscle.