Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Leucocyte sodium pump activity after meals or insulin in normal and obese subjects: cause for increased energetic efficiency in obesity?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 28 November 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:1369
  1. L L Ng,
  2. M A Bruce,
  3. T D Hockaday
  1. Sheikh Rashid Diabetes Unit, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.


    As cellular sodium pumping is an energy consuming process and differences in the obese may account for their energetic efficiency, leucocyte sodium-22 efflux was studied in obese and normal volunteers both in the fasting state and after a test meal or infusion of glucose and insulin intravenously. The 22Na ouabain sensitive efflux rate constant was significantly higher in obese subjects than normal (mean (1 SD) 2.69 (0.40)/h v 2.35 (0.49)/h). Two hours after a 4.2 MJ (1000 kcal) meal there was an increase in the efflux rate constant from its fasting value in normal weight subjects (2.39 (0.33)/h to 2.71 (0.40)/h) but not in obese subjects (2.65 (0.54)/h to 2.61 (0.58)/h). The rise in ouabain sensitive efflux rates was significantly higher in normal than obese subjects. Both groups showed a rise in intracellular sodium concentrations. The euglycaemic clamp produced similar results. Feeding or infusion of insulin increases sodium pump activity more in normal than obese subjects. This difference may contribute to any defective dietary thermogenesis in obesity, which may lead to energetic efficiency and a tendency to gain weight.