AIMS/HYPOTHESIS - Intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) accumulation is a classical feature of metabolic diseases. We hypothesised that IMCL accumulate mainly as a consequence of increased adiposity and independently of type 2 diabetes. To test this, we examined IMCL accumulation in two different models and four different populations of participants: muscle biopsies and primary human muscle cells derived from non-obese and obese participants with or without type 2 diabetes. The mechanism regulating IMCL accumulation was also studied.
METHODS - Muscle biopsies were obtained from ten non-obese and seven obese participants without type 2 diabetes, and from eight non-obese and eight obese type 2 diabetic patients. Mitochondrial respiration, citrate synthase activity and both AMP-activated protein kinase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase phosphorylation were measured in muscle tissue. Lipid accumulation in muscle and primary myotubes was estimated by Oil Red O staining and fatty acid translocase (FAT)/CD36 localisation by immunofluorescence.
RESULTS - Obesity and type 2 diabetes are independently characterised by skeletal muscle IMCL accumulation and permanent FAT/CD36 relocation. Mitochondrial function is not reduced in type 2 diabetes. IMCL accumulation was independent of type 2 diabetes in cultured myotubes and was correlated with obesity markers of the donor. In obese participants, membrane relocation of FAT/CD36 is a determinant of IMCL accumulation.
CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION - In skeletal muscle, mitochondrial function is normal in type 2 diabetes, while IMCL accumulation is dependent upon obesity or type 2 diabetes and is related to sarcolemmal FAT/CD36 relocation. In cultured myotubes, IMCL content and FAT/CD36 relocation are independent of type 2 diabetes, suggesting that distinct factors in obesity and type 2 diabetes contribute to permanent FAT/CD36 relocation ex vivo.