Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Capillary Recruitment


  • Stephen Rattigan is a Career Research Fellow of National Heart Foundation of Australia. This work was supported by the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia and the Australian Research Council.

Address correspondence to Stephen Rattigan, Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 58, Hobart, 7001, Australia. E-mail: S.rattigan@utas.edu.au



Objective: Insulin has vascular actions within the skeletal muscle microcirculation (capillary recruitment) that enhance its own access and that of glucose to the muscle cells. Obesity and insulin resistance are associated with dysregulated vascular function within muscle and a loss of insulin-mediated capillary recruitment. Furthermore, agents that impair insulin's vascular actions to recruit capillaries lead to acute insulin resistance in terms of muscle glucose uptake. Together these data suggest a strong connection between the loss of insulin-mediated capillary recruitment and the development of insulin resistance. This review examines the mechanisms involved in insulin-mediated capillary recruitment and the vascular defects associated with obesity and insulin resistance that may impair the capillary recruiting process. Understanding the mechanisms of insulin-mediated capillary recruitment and its impairment may lead to new treatment avenues to prevent the progression of obesity to diabetes.