Insulin resistance is a characteristic of type 2 diabetes and is a major independent risk factor for progression to the disease. In particular, insulin resistance associates with increased body fat and almost certainly contributes to the dramatic increase in risk of type 2 diabetes associated with obesity. Therefore, in order to design truly effective insulin sensitising agents, targeted at the mechanism of disease development, we aimed to generate an obesity-related insulin resistant cell model. Rat hepatoma cells were grown in the presence of serum isolated from obese rodents or obese human volunteers, and the insulin sensitivity of the cells monitored over time by measuring a well-characterised insulin regulated gene promoter. Higher insulin concentrations were required to fully repress the gene in the cells grown in obese rodent serum compared with those grown in serum from lean rodents (almost a 10-fold shift in insulin sensitivity). This was reversed by restoration of normal growth medium, while the insulin resistance was prevented by pioglitazone or metformin. Meanwhile, growth of cells in serum collected from obese human volunteers with diabetes also reduced the insulin sensitivity of the rat cells. No clinical marker predicted the degree of insulin resistance that was generated by the human serum. We have developed a novel insulin resistant cell model for the study of the molecular development of obesity-linked insulin resistance, screen for compounds to overcome obesity-related insulin resistance and potentially search for novel serum biomarkers of insulin resistance.
- Insulin sensitivity