Effects of Intravenous and Dietary Lipid Challenge on Intramyocellular Lipid Content and the Relation With Insulin Sensitivity in Humans

  1. Oliver P. Bachmann1,
  2. Dominik B. Dahl1,
  3. Klaus Brechtel2,
  4. Jürgen Machann2,
  5. Michael Haap1,
  6. Thomas Maier1,
  7. Mattias Loviscach1,
  8. Michael Stumvoll1,
  9. Claus D. Claussen2,
  10. Fritz Schick2,
  11. Hans U. Häring1 and
  12. Stephan Jacob1
  1. 1Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Eberhard-Karls University, Tübingen, Germany, and
  2. 2Department of Radiology, Eberhard-Karls University, Tübingen, Germany


    An increased intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) content, as quantified by 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS), is associated with reduced insulin sensitivity. At present, it is unclear which factors determine IMCL formation and how rapidly IMCL accumulation can be induced. We therefore studied the impact of hyperinsulinemia and elevated circulating nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) levels on IMCL formation and insulin sensitivity. We further evaluated the influence of a high-fat diet on IMCL storage. In the infusion protocol, 12 healthy male subjects underwent a 6-h hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic glucose clamp with concomitant infusion of Intralipid plus heparin. IMCL was quantified by 1H-MRS in soleus (SOL) and tibialis anterior (TA) muscle at baseline and then every hour. IMCL levels started to increase significantly after 2 h, reaching a maximum of 120.8 ± 3.4% (SOL) and 164.2 ± 13.8% (TA) of baseline after 6 h (both P < 0.05). In parallel, the glucose infusion rate (GIR) decreased progressively, reaching a minimum of 60.4 ± 5.4% of baseline after 6 h. Over time, the GIR was strongly correlated with IMCL in TA (r = −0.98, P ≤ 0.003) and SOL muscle (r = −0.97, P ≤ 0.005). In the diet protocol, 12 male subjects ingested both a high-fat and low-fat diet for 3 days each. Before and after completion of each diet, IMCL levels and insulin sensitivity were assessed. After the high-fat diet, IMCL levels increased significantly in TA muscle (to 148.0 ± 16.9% of baseline; P = 0.005), but not in SOL muscle (to 114.4 ± 8.2% of baseline; NS). Insulin sensitivity decreased to 83.3 ± 5.6% of baseline (P = 0.033). There were no significant changes in insulin sensitivity or IMCL levels after the low-fat diet. The effects of the high-fat diet showed greater interindividual variation than those of the infusion protocol. The data from the lipid infusion protocol suggest a functional relationship between IMCL levels and insulin sensitivity. Similar effects could be induced by a high-fat diet, thereby underlining the physiological relevance of these observations.


    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Hans U. Häring, Medical Clinic, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Otfried-Müller Str. 10, D-72076, Tübingen, Germany. E-mail: hans-ulrich.haering{at}med.uni-tuebingen.de

      O.P.B. and D.B.D. contributed equally to the article.

      Received for publication 5 March 2001 and accepted in revised form 7 August 2001.

      CT, computed tomography; GIR, glucose infusion rate; IMCL, intramyocellular lipid; 1H-MRS, 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy; NEFA, nonesterified fatty acid; SOL, soleus; TA, tibialis anterior.

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