Interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α are not increased in patients with Type 2 diabetes: Evidence that plasma interleukin-6 is related to fat mass and not insulin responsiveness

A. L. Carey, C. R. Bruce, M. Sacchetti, M. J. Anderson, D. B. Olsen, B. Saltin, J. A. Hawley, M. A. Febbraio

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Aims/hypothesis. Our aim was to examine the possible direct relationship of interleukin-6 and TNFα with insulin sensitivity in humans. Methods. We carried out two series of euglycaemic-hyperinsulinaemic clamp experiments. In the first (CLAMP1), skeletal muscle mRNA expression and plasma concentrations of IL-6 and TNFα were examined in patients with Type 2 diabetes (n=6), subjects matched for age (n=6), and young healthy (n=11) control subjects during a 120-min supra-physiological hyperinsulinaemic (40 mU·m -2·min-1) euglycaemic clamp. In the second series of experiments (CLAMP2), patients with Type 2 diabetes (n=6) and subjects matched for age (n=7) were studied during a 240-min high-physiological hyperinsulinaemic (7 mU·m-2·min-1) euglycaemic clamp, during which arterial and venous (femoral and subclavian) blood samples were measured for IL-6 and TNFα flux. Results. In both experiments the glucose infusion rate in the patients was markedly lower than that in the other groups. In CLAMP1, basal skeletal muscle IL-6 and TNFα mRNA were the same in all groups. They were not affected by insulin and they were not related to the glucose infusion rate. In CLAMP2, neither cytokine was released from the arm or leg during insulin stimulation in either group. In both experiments plasma concentrations of these cytokines were similar in the patients and in the control subjects, although in CLAMP1 the young healthy control group had lower (p<0.05) plasma IL-6 concentrations. Using data from all subjects, a strong positive correlation (r=0.85; p<0.00001) was observed between basal plasma IL-6 and BMI. Conversely, a negative relationship (r=-0.345; p<0.05) was found between basal plasma TNFα and BMI, although this was not significant when corrected for BMI. When corrected for BMI, no relationship was observed between either basal plasma IL-6 or TNFα and GIR. Conclusions/interpretation. These data show that the increased circulating IL-6 concentrations seen in patients with Type 2 diabetes are strongly related to fat mass and not insulin responsiveness, and suggest that neither IL-6 nor TNFα are indicative of insulin resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1037
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • Glucose disposal
  • Insulin resistance
  • Skeletal muscle

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