Effects of losartan on whole body, skeletal muscle and vascular insulin responses in obesity/insulin resistance without hypertension

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Renin-angiotensin system antagonists have been found to improve glucose metabolism in obese hypertensive and type 2 diabetic subjects. The mechanism of these effects is not well understood. We hypothesized that the angiotensin receptor antagonist losartan would improve insulin-mediated vasodilation, and thereby improve insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle of insulin-resistant subjects.


We studied subjects with obesity and insulin resistance but without hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia or dysglycaemia [age 39.0 ± 9.6 yr (mean ± SD), body mass index (BMI) 33.2 ± 5.9 kg/m2, BP 115.8 ± 12.2/70.9 ± 7.2 mmHg, LDL 2.1 ± 0.5 mmol/l]. Subjects were randomized to 12 weeks' double-blind treatment with losartan 100 mg once daily (n = 9) or matching placebo (n = 8). Before and after treatment, under hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamp conditions we measured whole-body insulin-stimulated glucose disposal, insulin-mediated vasodilation, and insulin-stimulated leg glucose uptake by the limb balance technique.


Whole-body insulin-stimulated glucose disposal was not significantly increased by losartan. Insulin-mediated vasodilation was augmented following both treatments [increase in leg vascular conductance: pretreatment 0.7 ± 0.3 l/min/mmHg (losartan, mean ± SEM) and 0.9 ± 0.3 (placebo), posttreatment 1.0 ± 0.4 (losartan) and 1.3 ± 0.6 (placebo)] but not different between treatment groups (p = 0.53). Insulin's action to augment nitric oxide (NO) production and to augment endothelium-dependent vasodilation was also not improved. Leg glucose uptake was not significantly changed by treatments, and not different between groups (p = 0.11).


These findings argue against the hypothesis that losartan might improve skeletal muscle glucose metabolism by improving insulin-mediated vasodilation in normotensive insulin-resistant obese subjects. The metabolic benefits of angiotensin receptor blockers may require the presence of hypertension in addition to obesity-associated insulin resistance.

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