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J Biol Chem. 2005 Dec 30;280(52):42731-7. Epub 2005 Nov 3.

p38 Mitogen-activated protein kinase plays a stimulatory role in hepatic gluconeogenesis.

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  • 1Endocrine Biology Program, CIIT Centers for Health Research, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Hepatic gluconeogenesis is essential for maintaining blood glucose levels during fasting and is the major contributor to postprandial and fasting hyperglycemia in diabetes. Gluconeogenesis is a classic cAMP/protein kinase A-dependent process initiated by glucagon, which is elevated in the blood during fasting and in diabetes. In this study, we have shown that p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38) was activated in liver by fasting and in primary hepatocytes by glucagon or forskolin. Fasting plasma glucose levels were reduced upon blockade of p38 with either a chemical inhibitor or small interference RNA in mice. In examining the mechanism, inhibition of p38 suppressed gluconeogenesis in liver, along with expression of key gluconeogenic genes, including phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and glucose-6-phosphatase. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1alpha and cAMP-response element-binding protein have been shown to be important mediators of hepatic gluconeogenesis. We have shown that inhibition of p38 prevented transcription of the PPARgamma coactivator 1alpha gene as well as phosphorylation of cAMP-response element-binding protein. Together, our results from in vitro and in vivo studies define a model in which cAMP-dependent activation of genes involved in gluconeogenesis is dependent upon the p38 pathway, thus adding a new player to our evolving understanding of this physiology.

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