Excessive caloric intake acutely causes oxidative stress, GLUT4 carbonylation, and insulin resistance in healthy men

Guenther Boden, Carol Homko, Carlos A. Barrero, T. Peter Stein, Xinhua Chen, Peter Cheung, Chiara Fecchio, Sarah Koller, Salim Merali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Obesity-linked insulin resistance greatly increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, together known as the metabolic or insulin resistance syndrome. How obesity promotes insulin resistance remains incompletely understood. Plasma concentrations of free fatty acids and proinflammatory cytokines, endoplasmic reticulum ( ER) stress, and oxidative stress are all elevated in obesity and have been shown to induce insulin resistance. However, they may be late events that only develop after chronic excessive nutrient intake. The nature of the initial event that produces insulin resistance at the beginning of excess caloric intake and weight gain remains unknown. We show that feeding healthy men with ∼6000 kcal/day of the common U.S. diet [∼50% carbohydrate (CHO), ∼ 35% fat, and ∼15%protein] for 1week produced a rapidweight gain of 3.5 kg and the rapid onset (after 2 to 3 days) of systemic and adipose tissue insulin resistance and oxidative stress but no inflammatory or ER stress. In adipose tissue, the oxidative stress resulted in extensive oxidation and carbonylation of numerous proteins, including carbonylation of GLUT4 near the glucose transport channel, which likely resulted in loss of GLUT4 activity. These results suggest that the initial event caused by overnutrition may be oxidative stress, which produces insulin resistance, at least in part, via carbonylation and oxidation-induced inactivation of GLUT4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number304re7
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number304
StatePublished - Sep 9 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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