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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21342. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021342. Epub 2011 Jun 22.

Insulin-regulated Srebp-1c and Pck1 mRNA expression in primary hepatocytes from zucker fatty but not lean rats is affected by feeding conditions.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America.


Insulin regulates the transcription of genes for hepatic glucose and lipid metabolism. We hypothesized that this action may be impaired in hepatocytes from insulin resistant animals. Primary hepatocytes from insulin sensitive Zucker lean (ZL) and insulin resistant Zucker fatty (ZF) rats in ad libitum or after an overnight fasting were isolated, cultured and treated with insulin and other compounds for analysis of gene expression using real-time PCR. The mRNA levels of one insulin-induced (Srebp-1c) and one insulin-suppressed (Pck1) genes in response to insulin, glucagon, and compactin treatments in hepatocytes from ad libitum ZL and ZF rats were analyzed. Additionally, the effects of insulin and T1317 on their levels in hepatocytes from ad libitum or fasted ZL or ZF rats were compared. The mRNA levels of Srebp-1c, Fas, and Scd1, but not that of Insr, Gck and Pck1, were higher in freshly isolated hepatocytes from ad libitum ZF than that from ZL rats. These patterns of Srebp-1c and Pck1 mRNA levels remained in primary hepatocyte cultured in vitro. Insulin's ability to regulate Srebp-1c and Pck1 expression was diminished in hepatocytes from ad libitum ZF, but not ZL rats. Glucagon or compactin suppressed Srebp-1c mRNA expression in lean, but not fatty hepatocytes. However, glucagon induced Pck1 mRNA expression similarly in hepatocytes from ad libitum ZL and ZF rats. Insulin caused the same dose-dependent increase of Akt phosphorylation in hepatocytes from ad libitum ZL and ZF rats. It synergized with T1317 to induce Srebp-1c, and suppressed Pck1 mRNA levels in hepatocytes from fasted, but not that from ad libitum ZF rats. We demonstrated that insulin was unable to regulate its downstream genes' mRNA expression in hepatocytes from ad libitum ZF rats. This impairment can be partially restored in hepatocytes from ZF rats after an overnight fasting, a phenomenon that deserves further investigation.

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