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Diabetologia. 2012 Oct;55(10):2759-68. doi: 10.1007/s00125-012-2626-x. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Targeting of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production does not avert lipid-induced insulin resistance in muscle tissue from mice.

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  • 1Department of Human Biology, NUTRIM - School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands.



High-fat, high-sucrose diet (HF)-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels are implicated in skeletal muscle insulin resistance and mitochondrial dysfunction. Here we investigated whether mitochondrial ROS sequestering can circumvent HF-induced oxidative stress; we also determined the impact of any reduced oxidative stress on muscle insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function.


The Skulachev ion (plastoquinonyl decyltriphenylphosphonium) (SkQ), a mitochondria-specific antioxidant, was used to target ROS production in C2C12 muscle cells as well as in HF-fed (16 weeks old) male C57Bl/6 mice, compared with mice on low-fat chow diet (LF) or HF alone. Oxidative stress was measured as protein carbonylation levels. Glucose tolerance tests, glucose uptake assays and insulin-stimulated signalling were determined to assess muscle insulin sensitivity. Mitochondrial function was determined by high-resolution respirometry.


SkQ treatment reduced oxidative stress in muscle cells (-23% p < 0.05), but did not improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake under insulin-resistant conditions. In HF mice, oxidative stress was elevated (56% vs LF p < 0.05), an effect completely blunted by SkQ. However, HF and HF+SkQ mice displayed impaired glucose tolerance (AUC HF up 33%, p < 0.001; HF+SkQ up 22%; p < 0.01 vs LF) and disrupted skeletal muscle insulin signalling. ROS sequestering did not improve mitochondrial function.


SkQ treatment reduced muscle mitochondrial ROS production and prevented HF-induced oxidative stress. Nonetheless, whole-body glucose tolerance, insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, muscle insulin signalling and mitochondrial function were not improved. These results suggest that HF-induced oxidative stress is not a prerequisite for the development of muscle insulin resistance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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