Vol 58, No 3 (2007)
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Published online: 2007-09-19

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Visfatin levels do not change after the oral glucose tolerance test and after a dexamethasone-induced increase in insulin resistance in humans

Magdalena Marcinkowska, Krzysztof C Lewandowski, Andrzej Lewiński, Małgorzata Bieńkiewicz, Magdalena Basińska-Lewandowska, Ireneusz Salata, Harpal S Randeva
Endokrynol Pol 2007;58(3):188-194.


Introduction, material and methods: Visfatin is a cytokine, mainly expressed in visceral fat, that exerts insulin-mimicking effects in rodents through activation of an insulin receptor, although the binding-site is distinct from that of insulin. However, the mechanisms that regulate visfatin synthesis are still not fully understood. In particular, it is not clear whether short-term glucose-induced hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia as well as a glucocorticoid-induced increase in insulin resistance are reflected in appreciable alterations in serum visfatin levels in humans. In order to investigate this we measured serum visfatin, glucose and insulin concentrations during a 75.0 gram oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) [Study 1], as well as before and after oral administration of dexamethasone [Study 2]. Study 1 included 17 subjects (2 males), aged 35.7 ± 15.6 (mean ± SD) years of BMI 35.2 ± 9.3 kg/m2. Blood samples were taken before (0 minutes) and at 60 and 120 minutes after glucose administration. Study 2 included 20 subjects (4 males, 5 subjects with type 2 diabetes), aged 42.1 ± 17.2 years of BMI 36.7 ± 8.38 kg/m2 who underwent screening for Cushing’s disease/syndrome. Dexamethasone was administered at a dose of 0.5 mg every 6 hours for 48 hours. Fasting serum concentrations of visfatin, glucose and insulin were assessed before (D0) and after 48 hours of dexamethasone administration (D2). Insulin resistance was assessed according to the HOMA method in non-diabetic individuals (n = 15).
Results: In Study 1 two subjects were found to have impaired glucose tolerance and one subject was found to have diabetes mellitus. Glucose administration resulted in a highly significant increase in insulin (from 11.4 ± 7.2 µU/mL at 0 min to 98.9 ± 68.6 µU/mL at 60 min and 72.6 ± 45.1 µU/mL at 120 minute of OGTT, p < 0.001 for 60 and 120 minutes in comparison to baseline). However, there was no change in serum visfatin concentrations (84.6 ± 11.6 ng/mL at 0 minutes, 82.6 ± 12.7 ng/mL at 60 minutes and 81.1 ± 14.5 ng/mL at 120 minutes of OGTT, p = ns). All subjects in Study 2 achieved suppression of cortisol concentrations below 50 nmo/l. Dexamethasone administration resulted in an increase in fasting insulin (from 11.5 ± 6.9 to 16.9 ± 7.6 µU/mL; p = 0.011) and an increase in HOMA (from 2.73 ± 1.74 to 4.02 ± 2.27; p = 0.015), albeit without a significant change in serum visfatin concentrations (61.1 ± 19.8 vs. 68.3 ± 19.4 ng/mL, p = ns). In neither Study 1 nor Study 2 was there any significant correlation between serum visfatin and age, BMI or HOMA.
Conclusions: There is a striking difference between the marked rise in insulin concentrations and the lack of change in visfatin concentrations during the oral glucose tolerance test. This implies that it is highly unlikely that visfatin is involved in the short-term regulation of glucose homeostasis in human subjects. Dexamethasone administration (4 mg/48 hours) induces an increase in insulin resistance, although without significant change in serum visfatin concentrations. Thereforein contrast to the in vitro data, short term glucocorticoid administration does not result in appreciable changes in serum levels of this adipocytokine. Furthermore, the results of our study do not support the notion that glucocorticoid-induced insulin resistance is likely to be related to changes in serum concentrations of visfatin. (Pol J Endocrinol 2007; 58 (3): 188–194)

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