Insulin resistance and protein metabolism in chronic hemodialysis patients

J Ren Nutr. 2013 May;23(3):e59-66. doi: 10.1053/j.jrn.2012.08.013. Epub 2012 Nov 27.


Objective: Loss of lean body mass (sarcopenia) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in patients receiving chronic hemodialysis (CHD). Insulin resistance (IR), which is highly prevalent in patients receiving CHD, has been proposed to play a critical role in the development of sarcopenia. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of IR on amino acid metabolism in patients receiving CHD.

Design: This was a cross-sectional study.

Subjects: The study included 12 prevalent (i.e., patients that have been on dialysis for more than 90 days) African American patients receiving CHD.

Methods: IR was measured as glucose disposal rate (GDR) determined from hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp (HGEC) studies performed 3 consecutive times. Plasma amino acid (AA) concentrations were measured by real-time high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) throughout the clamp study. The primary outcome was percentage change in leucine concentrations during the clamp study. The main predictor was the GDR measured simultaneously during the HGEC studies. Mixed model analysis was used to account for repeated measures.

Results: All individual AA concentrations declined significantly in response to high-dose insulin administration (P < .001). There was a significant direct association between GDR by HECG studies and the percentage change in leucine concentration (P = .02). Although positive correlations were observed between GDR values and concentration changes from baseline for other AAs, these associations did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the severity of IR of carbohydrate metabolism is associated with a lesser decline in plasma leucine concentrations, suggesting a similar resistance to protein anabolism. Insulin resistance represents a potential mechanism for sarcopenia commonly observed in patients receiving CHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Amino Acids / pharmacokinetics
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Composition
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique / methods
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism / blood
  • Hyperinsulinism / etiology
  • Hyperinsulinism / physiopathology
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Leucine / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Sarcopenia / etiology
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Amino Acids
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Proteins
  • Leucine