Insulin binding to monocytes was examined in trained athletes (long distance runners) and in sedentary control subjects in the resting state and after 3 h of exercise at 40% of maximal aerobic power. At rest, specific binding of 125-I-insulin to monocytes was 69% higher in athletes than in sedentary controls and correlated with maximal aerobic power. The increase in insulin binding was primarily due to an increase in binding capacity. During acute exercise, insulin binding fell by 31% in athletes but rose by 35% in controls. The athletes had a smaller decline in plasma glucose and a lower respiratory exchange ratio during exercise than did controls. We conclude that physical training increases insulin binding to monocytes in the resting state but results in a fall in insulin binding during acute exercise. Changes in insulin binding in athletes thus may account for augmented insulin sensitivity at rest as well as a greater shift from carbohydrate to fat usage during exercise than is observed in untrained controls.


V A Koivisto, V Soman, P Conrad, R Hendler, E Nadel, P Felig


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