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J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3):907S-912S.

In vivo insulin regulation of skeletal muscle glycogen synthase in calorie-restricted and in ad libitum-fed rhesus monkeys.

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University of Maryland, Obesity and Diabetes Research Center, Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Chronic calorie restriction in primates has been shown to have profound and unexpected effects on basal and on in vivo insulin action on skeletal muscle glycogen synthase (GS) activity. The decreased ability of insulin to activate skeletal muscle GS is a hallmark of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The mechanism and role of in vivo insulin regulation of skeletal muscle GS are not fully understood. Two pathways for the activation of GS by insulin have been described by Larner and others: 1) insulin activates glucose transport that results in an increase in glucose-6-phosphate (G6P), thereby activating protein phosphatase-1, which in turn dephosphorylates and activates GS, therefore, pushing substrate into glycogen; and 2) insulin activates GS (perhaps by forming low-molecular-weight mediators which may activate protein phosphatase-1 and 2C) and activated GS subsequently pulls intermediates (e.g., G6P and uridine 5'-diphosphoglucose) into glycogen. To determine whether in vivo insulin regulates glycogen synthesis primarily via a push or pull mechanism and how this mechanism might be affected by long-term calorie restriction, skeletal muscle samples were obtained before and during a euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp from 41 rhesus monkeys. The monkeys varied widely in their degree of insulin sensitivity and age and included chronically calorie-restricted (CR) monkeys and ad libitum-fed monkeys. The ad libitum-fed monkeys included spontaneously type 2 diabetic, prediabetic and clinically normal animals. The apparent affinity of GS for the allosteric activator G6P (G6P Ka of GS) was measured and compared with G6P content in the muscle samples. Basal G6P Ka of GS was lower in the CR monkeys compared with the 3 ad libitum-fed groups (P: < or = 0.05). Only the normal ad libitum-fed monkeys had a decrease in the G6P Ka of GS with insulin (P: < 0.005). The insulin effect (insulin-stimulated minus basal) on the G6P Ka of GS was strongly positively related to the insulin effect on G6P content (r = 0.80, P: < 0.0001) across the entire group of monkeys. This finding supports the hypothesis that activation/dephosphorylation of GS by insulin is related to a decrease in G6P content and that paradoxical inactivation/phosphorylation of GS by insulin is related to an increase in G6P content (as demonstrated in 4 of 6 CR monkeys). Therefore, during a euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp, insulin regulates skeletal muscle glycogen synthesis primarily via a pull mechanism in both CR and in ad libitum-fed rhesus monkeys.

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