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Diabetes. 2003 Sep;52(9):2205-12.

Effect of exercise intensity on skeletal muscle AMPK signaling in humans.

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St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia.


The effect of exercise intensity on skeletal muscle AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling and substrate metabolism was examined in eight men cycling for 20 min at each of three sequential intensities: low (40 +/- 2% VO(2) peak), medium (59 +/- 1% VO(2) peak), and high (79 +/- 1% VO(2) peak). Muscle free AMP/ATP ratio only increased at the two higher exercise intensities (P < 0.05). AMPK alpha 1 (1.5-fold) and AMPK alpha 2 (5-fold) activities increased from low to medium intensity, with AMPK alpha 2 activity increasing further from medium to high intensity. The upstream AMPK kinase activity was substantial at rest and only increased 50% with exercise, indicating that, initially, signaling through AMPK did not require AMPK kinase posttranslational modification. Acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC)-beta phosphorylation was sensitive to exercise, increasing threefold from rest to low intensity, whereas neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) micro phosphorylation was only observed at the higher exercise intensities. Glucose disappearance (tracer) did not increase from rest to low intensity, but increased sequentially from low to medium to high intensity. Calculated fat oxidation increased from rest to low intensity in parallel with ACC beta phosphorylation, then declined during high intensity. These results indicate that ACC beta phosphorylation is especially sensitive to exercise and tightly coupled to AMPK signaling and that AMPK activation does not depend on AMPK kinase activation during exercise.

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