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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2003 Sep;5(5):295-301.

Increased fatty acid oxidation in transgenic mice overexpressing UCP3 in skeletal muscle.

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  • 1Clore Laboratory, University of Buckingham, Buckingham, UK.



To determine the rates of substrate oxidation by skeletal muscle in vitro as well as tissue-specific glucose uptake in vivo in transgenic mice overexpressing uncoupling protein-3 (UCP3) in skeletal muscle.


Soleus muscle was isolated from transgenic mice overexpressing UCP3 in skeletal muscle and wild-type mice. Rates of [1-14C]-palmitate oxidation and [2-14C]-pyruvate oxidation were determined by in vitro incubation of the soleus muscle. Tissue glucose uptake rates were characterized during a glucose tolerance test using 2-deoxy-[1-3H]-glucose as a tracer.


Oxidation of [1-14C]-palmitate to CO2 by isolated soleus muscle was increased in UCP3 transgenic mice (0.45 +/- 0.03 vs. 0.24 +/- 0.02 micro mol/h/g). [2-14C]-pyruvate oxidation, which is a measure of the activity of pyruvate carboxylase in introducing pyruvate carbon into the tricarboxylic acid cycle, was increased 1.4-fold in the presence of fatty acid in the UCP3 transgenic mice (3.84 +/- 0.28 vs. 5.36 +/- 0.29 micro mol/h/g). The plasma glucose concentration after an overnight fast was significantly lower in the UCP3 transgenic mice (3.56 +/- 0.37 vs. 5.11 +/- 0.33 m/mol). Only brown adipose tissue from the UCP3 transgenic mice showed increased tissue glucose uptake rates compared with the wild-type mice. Skeletal muscle uptake rates of 2-deoxyglucose were either unchanged (soleus and gastrocnemius) or reduced (diaphragm) in the UCP3 transgenic mice.


The improved glucose tolerance in the UCP3 transgenic mice does not appear to be the result of increased uptake into peripheral tissues. The increased fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle of UCP3 transgenic mice supports the proposed role of UCP3 in the export of fatty acid anions from mitochondria during fatty acid oxidation.

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