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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Mar;280(3):E528-33.

Enhanced muscle insulin receptor autophosphorylation with short-term aerobic exercise training.

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Division of Diabetes and Endocrine Research, Department of Medicine, Mount Zion Medical Center, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Exercise training improves insulin action in skeletal muscle, but the mechanisms of this effect are not completely understood. In particular, the role of the insulin receptor (IR) is unclear. We examined the IR and an enzyme indicative of oxidative capacity in muscle in relation to improved insulin action in 20 previously sedentary individuals before and after a 7-day program of moderate-intensity cycle ergometry. After training, insulin sensitivity increased 33% (6.20 +/- 0.91 vs. 8.22 +/- 1.12 min. microU(-1). ml(-1) mean +/- SE, pre- vs. posttraining, respectively, P < 0.05). The mitochondrial marker enzyme cytochrome c oxidase (COX) increased in vastus lateralis biopsies by 21% (P < 0.05). After training, IR autophosphorylation, determined by ELISA, was significantly increased by approximately 40% at insulin concentrations from 1 to 100 nM (P < 0.05). The training-induced improvements in IR autophosphorylation were significantly correlated with changes in muscle COX content (r = 0.65, P < 0.05). These studies indicate that, in this model of increased physical activity, improvements in IR function are an early adaptation to exercise in humans, are correlated with increases in muscle oxidative capacity, and likely contribute to the beneficial effects of exercise training on insulin action.

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