First published June 1, 1983 - More info
To clarify the nature of the insulin resistance of aging we studied the dose response for insulin-induced glucose disposal and the binding of insulin to circulating monocytes in healthy young and old men. A total of 49 two-hour euglycemic insulin clamp studies were performed in 17 young and 10 old healthy nonobese subjects. While the old group had lower estimates of lean body mass and greater estimates of total body fat than the young group, these differences did not exceed 5% and did not reach statistical significance. Insulin was infused at 20 mU/m2 per min (young = 8, old = 5); 80 mU/m2 per min (young = 13, old = 9); 200 mU/m2 per min (young = 9, old = 5). Increasing levels of hyperinsulinemia were associated with dose-dependent increases in steady-state glucose infusion rates in young and old. The maximal glucose infusion rates (milligrams per kilogram body weight per minute) were the same for young and old. However, the dose-response curve was shifted to the right in the old subjects. In the four individuals in each age group in whom studies were performed at each dose level, the Km was 54 +/- 14 microU/ml in the young and 113 +/- 11 microU/ml in the old (P less than 0.02). Correction of glucose infusion rate for lean body mass had no effect on comparisons between age groups. These data indicate an age-associated decline in sensitivity of peripheral tissues to insulin without a change in maximal tissue responsiveness. Studies of insulin binding with 14 young and 9 old subjects indicated no effect of age on the insulin binding to receptors on circulating monocytes (young = 5.25 +/- 0.35; old = 6.22 +/- 0.53% of 125I-insulin bound/10(7) cells). These studies suggest that aging may be associated with a postreceptor defect in insulin action manifested by decreased whole-body tissue sensitivity to insulin without a change in tissue responsiveness.