Computational model of cellular metabolic dynamics: effect of insulin on glucose disposal in human skeletal muscle

Yanjun Li, Thomas P J Solomon, Jacob M Haus, Gerald M Saidel, Marco E Cabrera, John P Kirwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying the mechanisms by which insulin regulates glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle is critical to understanding the etiology of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Our knowledge of these mechanisms is limited by the difficulty of obtaining in vivo intracellular data. To quantitatively distinguish significant transport and metabolic mechanisms from limited experimental data, we developed a physiologically based, multiscale mathematical model of cellular metabolic dynamics in skeletal muscle. The model describes mass transport and metabolic processes including distinctive processes of the cytosol and mitochondria. The model simulated skeletal muscle metabolic responses to insulin corresponding to human hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp studies. Insulin-mediated rate of glucose disposal was the primary model input. For model validation, simulations were compared with experimental data: intracellular metabolite concentrations and patterns of glucose disposal. Model variations were simulated to investigate three alternative mechanisms to explain insulin enhancements: Model 1 (M.1), simple mass action; M.2, insulin-mediated activation of key metabolic enzymes (i.e., hexokinase, glycogen synthase, pyruvate dehydrogenase); or M.3, parallel activation by a phenomenological insulin-mediated intracellular signal that modifies reaction rate coefficients. These simulations indicated that models M.1 and M.2 were not sufficient to explain the experimentally measured metabolic responses. However, by application of mechanism M.3, the model predicts metabolite concentration changes and glucose partitioning patterns consistent with experimental data. The reaction rate fluxes quantified by this detailed model of insulin/glucose metabolism provide information that can be used to evaluate the development of type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1198-209
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Computer Simulation
  • Cytosol
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Glucose
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Insulin
  • Mitochondria, Muscle
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Young Adult


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