Insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1) gene polymorphisms have been identified in type 2 diabetic patients; however, it is unclear how such polymorphisms contribute to the development of diabetes. Here we introduced obesity in heterozygous IRS-1 knockout (IRS-1(+/-)) mice by gold-thioglucose (GTG) injection and studied the impact of reduced IRS-1 expression on obesity-linked insulin resistance. GTG injection resulted in approximately 30% weight gain in IRS-1(+/-) and wild type (WT) mice, compared with saline-injected controls. There was no difference in insulin sensitivity between lean IRS-1(+/-) and lean WT. Elevated fasting insulin levels but no change in fasting glucose were noted in obese IRS-1(+/-) and WT compared with the respective lean controls. Importantly, fasting insulin in obese IRS-1(+/-) was 1.5-fold higher (P<0.05) than in obese WT, and an insulin tolerance test showed a profound insulin resistance in obese IRS-1(+/-) compared with obese WT. The islets of obese IRS-1(+/-) were 1.4-fold larger than those of obese WT. The expression of insulin receptor and IRS-1 and IRS-2 was decreased in obese IRS-1(+/-), which could in part explain the profound insulin resistance in these mice. Our results suggest that IRS-1 is the suspected gene for type 2 diabetes and its polymorphisms could worsen insulin resistance in the presence of other additional factors, such as obesity.
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