AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Growth hormone (GH) causes insulin resistance that is linked to lipolysis, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. We investigated if GH-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle involves accumulation of diacylglycerol (DAG) and ceramide as well as impaired insulin signalling, or substrate competition between fatty acids and glucose.
METHODS: Nine GH-deficient male participants were randomised and examined in a 2 × 2 factorial design with and without administration of GH and acipimox (an anti-lipolytic compound). As-treated analyses were performed, wherefore data from three visits from two patients were excluded due to incorrect GH administration. The primary outcome was insulin sensitivity, expressed as the AUC of the glucose infusion rate (GIRAUC), and furthermore, the levels of DAGs and ceramides, insulin signalling and the activity of the active form of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDHa) were assessed in skeletal muscle biopsies obtained in the basal state and during a hyperinsulinaemic-euglycaemic clamp (HEC).
RESULTS: Co-administration of acipimox completely suppressed the GH-induced elevation in serum levels of NEFA (GH versus GH+acipimox, p < 0.0001) and abrogated GH-induced insulin resistance (mean GIRAUC [95% CI] [mg min-1 kg-1] during the HEC: control, 595 [493, 718]; GH, 468 [382, 573]; GH+acipimox, 654 [539, 794]; acipimox, 754 [618, 921]; GH vs GH+acipimox: p = 0.004). GH did not significantly change either the accumulation of DAGs and ceramides or insulin signalling in skeletal muscle, but GH antagonised the insulin-stimulated increase in PDHa activity (mean ± SEM [% from the basal state to the HEC]: control, 47 ± 19; GH, -15 ± 21; GH+acipimox, 3 ± 21; acipimox, 57 ± 22; main effect: p = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: GH-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle is: (1) causally linked to lipolysis; (2) not associated with either accumulation of DAGs and ceramides or impaired insulin signalling; (3) likely to involve substrate competition between glucose and lipid intermediates.
- Pyruvate dehydrogenase activity
- Insulin resistance
- Insulin signalling
- Growth hormone
- Fatty acids