Microanalytic methods were used to investigate the regulation of glucose metabolism by insulin in single myocytes isolated from adult rat ventricles. Cultured myocytes were incubated with or without insulin and, with either glucose or 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG), rinsed, and freeze-dried. Individual cells were weighed and levels of 2-DG-6-phosphate (2-DG-6-P) or glucose and glucose 6-phosphate (G-6-P) were determined after enzymatic amplification. In cells incubated with 2-DG, insulin increased the level of 2-DG-6-P by as much as 30-fold, indicative of dramatic activation of glucose transport. In cells incubated with glucose, insulin increased the levels of G-6-P by approximately threefold. Increasing extracellular glucose without insulin also increased G-6-P; however, intracellular glucose concentrations were not increased, indicating that glucose transport is rate limiting in nonstimulated myocytes. In contrast, intracellular glucose concentrations were increased by over an order of magnitude by insulin, reaching 60% of the extracellular glucose concentration. Measurements of glucose and G-6-P in the same insulin-treated cells revealed that accumulation of G-6-P reached a plateau when extracellular glucose was increased >2 mM. At this point the estimated intracellular glucose concentration was 300 μM, or approximately 10 times the Michaelis constant of hexokinase for glucose. These results indicate that in the presence of insulin and physiological concentrations of glucose, hexokinase is saturated with glucose. Consequently, the rate- limiting step for insulin-stimulated glucose utilization is glucose phosphorylation rather than glucose transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E326-E333
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3 29-3
StatePublished - 1994


  • glucose phosphorylation
  • hexokinase
  • microanalytic methods


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