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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Apr;94(4):1373-9. Epub 2002 Dec 20.

Effects of AICAR and exercise on insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, signaling, and GLUT-4 content in rat muscles.

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Medical Research Laboratory and Medical Department M (Endocrinology and Diabetes), Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus Kommunehospital, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


Physical activity is known to increase insulin action in skeletal muscle, and data have indicated that 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is involved in the molecular mechanisms behind this beneficial effect. 5-Aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-d-ribofuranoside (AICAR) can be used as a pharmacological tool to repetitively activate AMPK, and the objective of this study was to explore whether the increase in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake after either long-term exercise or chronic AICAR administration was followed by fiber-type-specific changes in insulin signaling and/or changes in GLUT-4 expression. Wistar rats were allocated into three groups: an exercise group trained on treadmill for 5 days, an AICAR group exposed to daily subcutaneous injections of AICAR, and a sedentary control group. AMPK activity, insulin-stimulated glucose transport, insulin signaling, and GLUT-4 expression were determined in muscles characterized by different fiber type compositions. Both exercised and AICAR-injected animals displayed a fiber-type-specific increase in glucose transport with the most marked increase in muscles with a high content of type IIb fibers. This increase was accompanied by a concomitant increase in GLUT-4 expression. Insulin signaling as assessed by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and PKB/Akt activity was enhanced only after AICAR administration and in a non-fiber-type-specific manner. In conclusion, chronic AICAR administration and long-term exercise both improve insulin-stimulated glucose transport in skeletal muscle in a fiber-type-specific way, and this is associated with an increase in GLUT-4 content.

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