Lower fasting muscle mitochondrial activity relates to hepatic steatosis in humans

Diabetes Care. 2014 Feb;37(2):468-74. doi: 10.2337/dc13-1359. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Objective: Muscle insulin resistance has been implicated in the development of steatosis and dyslipidemia by changing the partitioning of postprandial substrate fluxes. Also, insulin resistance may be due to reduced mitochondrial function. We examined the association between mitochondrial activity, insulin sensitivity, and steatosis in a larger human population.

Research design and methods: We analyzed muscle mitochondrial activity from ATP synthase flux (fATP) and ectopic lipids by multinuclei magnetic resonance spectroscopy from 113 volunteers with and without diabetes. Insulin sensitivity was assessed from M values using euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamps and/or from oral glucose insulin sensitivity (OGIS) using oral glucose tolerance tests.

Results: Muscle fATP correlated negatively with hepatic lipid content and HbA1c. After model adjustment for study effects and other confounders, fATP showed a strong negative correlation with hepatic lipid content and a positive correlation with insulin sensitivity and fasting C-peptide. The negative correlation of muscle fATP with age, HbA1c, and plasma free fatty acids was weakened after adjustment. Body mass, muscle lipid contents, plasma lipoproteins, and triglycerides did not associate with fATP.

Conclusions: The association of impaired muscle mitochondrial activity with hepatic steatosis supports the concept of a close link between altered muscle and liver energy metabolism as early abnormalities promoting insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fasting*
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / enzymology
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases