OBJECTIVE—A lower in vivo mitochondrial function has been reported in both type 2 diabetic patients and first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic patients. The nature of this reduction is unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that a lower intrinsic mitochondrial respiratory capacity may underlie lower in vivo mitochondrial function observed in diabetic patients.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Ten overweight diabetic patients, 12 first-degree relatives, and 16 control subjects, all men, matched for age and BMI, participated in this study. Insulin sensitivity was measured with a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. Ex vivo intrinsic mitochondrial respiratory capacity was determined in permeabilized skinned muscle fibers using high-resolution respirometry and normalized for mitochondrial content. In vivo mitochondrial function was determined by measuring phosphocreatine recovery half-time after exercise using 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
RESULTS—Insulin-stimulated glucose disposal was lower in diabetic patients compared with control subjects (11.2 ± 2.8 vs. 28.9 ± 3.7 μmol · kg−1 fat-free mass · min−1, respectively; P = 0.003), with intermediate values for first-degree relatives (22.1 ± 3.4 μmol · kg−1 fat-free mass · min−1). In vivo mitochondrial function was 25% lower in diabetic patients (P = 0.034) and 23% lower in first-degree relatives, but the latter did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.08). Interestingly, ADP-stimulated basal respiration was 35% lower in diabetic patients (P = 0.031), and fluoro-carbonyl cyanide phenylhydrazone–driven maximal mitochondrial respiratory capacity was 31% lower in diabetic patients (P = 0.05) compared with control subjects with intermediate values for first-degree relatives.
CONCLUSIONS—A reduced basal ADP-stimulated and maximal mitochondrial respiratory capacity underlies the reduction in in vivo mitochondrial function, independent of mitochondrial content. A reduced capacity at both the level of the electron transport chain and phosphorylation system underlies this impaired mitochondrial capacity.