Some patients with severe insulin resistance develop pathological tissue growth reminiscent of acromegaly. Previous studies of such patients have suggested the presence of a selective postreceptor defect of insulin signaling, resulting in the impairment of metabolic but preservation of mitogenic signaling. As the activation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) is considered essential for insulin's metabolic signaling, we have examined insulin-stimulated PI 3-kinase activity in anti-insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 immunoprecipitates from cultured dermal fibroblasts obtained from pseudoacromegalic (PA) patients and controls. At a concentration of insulin (1 nM) similar to that seen in vivo in PA patients, the activation of IRS-1-associated PI 3-kinase was reduced markedly in fibroblasts from the PA patients (32+/-7% of the activity of normal controls, P < 0.01). Genetic and biochemical studies indicated that this impairment was not secondary to a defect in the structure, expression, or activation of the insulin receptor, IRS-1, or p85alpha. Insulin stimulation of mitogenesis in PA fibroblasts, as determined by thymidine incorporation, was indistinguishable from controls, as was mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation, confirming the integrity of insulin's mitogenic signaling pathways in this condition. These findings support the existence of an intrinsic defect of postreceptor insulin signaling in the PA subtype of insulin resistance, which involves impairment of the activation of PI 3-kinase. The PA tissue growth seen in such patients is likely to result from severe in vivo hyperinsulinemia activating intact mitogenic signaling pathways emanating from the insulin receptor.
K Dib, J P Whitehead, P J Humphreys, M A Soos, K C Baynes, S Kumar, T Harvey, S O'Rahilly