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Age (Dordr). 2013 Oct;35(5):1755-65. doi: 10.1007/s11357-012-9475-x. Epub 2012 Sep 14.

Chronic caffeine intake reverses age-induced insulin resistance in the rat: effect on skeletal muscle Glut4 transporters and AMPK activity.

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  • 1CEDOC, Departamento de Fisiopatologia, Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, NOVA, Lisbon, Portugal.


The role of caffeine consumption on insulin action is still under debate. The hypothesis that chronic caffeine intake reverses aging-induced insulin resistance in the rat was tested in this work. The mechanism by which caffeine restores insulin sensitivity was also investigated. Six groups of rats were used: 3 months old (3 M), 3 months old caffeine-treated (3MCaf), 12 months old (12 M), 12 months old caffeine-treated (12MCaf), 24 months old (24 M), and 24 months old caffeine-treated (24MCaf). Caffeine was administered in drinking water (1 g/l) during 15 days. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by means of the insulin tolerance test. Blood pressure, body weight, visceral and total fat, fasting glycemia and insulinemia, plasma nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), cortisol, nitric oxide, and catecholamines were monitored. Skeletal muscle Glut4 and 5'-AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) protein expression and activity were also assessed. Aged rats exhibited diminished insulin sensitivity accompanied by hyperinsulinemia and normoglycemia, increased visceral and total fat, decreased TAC and plasma catecholamines, and also decreased skeletal muscle Glut4 and AMPK protein expression. Chronic caffeine intake restored insulin sensitivity and regularized circulating insulin and NEFA in both aging models. Caffeine neither modified skeletal muscle AMPK expression nor activity in aged rats; however, it decreased visceral and total fat in 12 M rats and it restored skeletal muscle Glut4 expression to control values in 24 M rats. We concluded that chronic caffeine intake reverses aging-induced insulin resistance in rats by decreasing NEFA production and also by increasing Glut4 expression in skeletal muscle.

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