While the incidence of diabetes increases with age, a decrease in β-cell function independent of age-related insulin resistance has not been conclusively determined. We studied insulin secretion (by hyperglycemic clamp) in 3-, 9-, and 20-month-old chronically catheterized, awake, Sprague Dawley (SD) rats (n = 78). Insulin action was modulated in a group of old rats by caloric restriction (CR) or by surgical removal of visceral fat (VF-). During the first 2 h of the clamp (11 mmol/l glucose), insulin secretion and insulin resistance (Si hyper clamp) demonstrated the characteristic hyperbolic relationship. However, after hyperglycemia for an additional 2 h, the ability to maintain insulin secretion, commensurate with the degree of insulin resistance, was decreased in all aging rats (P < 0.05). Increasing plasma glucose levels to 18 mmol/l glucose, after clamp at 11 mmol/l, increased insulin secretion by approximately threefold in young rats, but failed to induce similar magnitude of response in the aging rats (∼50%). However, elevation of plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels by twofold (by intralipid infusion during 11 mmol/l glucose clamp) resulted in a robust, approximate twofold response in both young and old rats. Thus, prolonged stimulation by hyperglycemia unveiled a functional defect in insulin secretion with aging. This age-related defect is independent of insulin action and is specific to glucose and not FFAs. We suggest that prolonged hyperglycemic stimulation can be a tool to identify functional defects in insulin secretion, particularly in the context of the hyperbolic relationship with insulin action, in elderly subjects or those at risk for type 2 diabetes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism