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Metabolism. 2004 Oct;53(10):1322-30.

Development of glucose intolerance in male transgenic mice overexpressing human glycogen synthase kinase-3beta on a muscle-specific promoter.

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Department of Vascular Biology, GlaxoSmithKline, Harlow, UK.


Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) protein levels and activity are elevated in skeletal muscle in type 2 diabetes, and inversely correlated with both glycogen synthase activity and insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. To explore this relationship, we have produced transgenic mice that overexpress human GSK-3beta in skeletal muscle. GSK-3beta transgenic mice were heavier, by up to 20% (P < .001), than their age-matched controls due to an increase in fat mass. The male GSK-3beta transgenic mice had significantly raised plasma insulin levels and by 24 weeks of age became glucose-intolerant as determined by a 50% increase in the area under their oral glucose tolerance curve (P < .001). They were also hyperlipidemic with significantly raised serum cholesterol (+90%), nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs) (+55%), and triglycerides (+170%). At 29 weeks of age, GSK-3beta protein levels were 5-fold higher, and glycogen synthase activation (-27%), glycogen levels (-58%) and insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) protein levels (-67%) were significantly reduced in skeletal muscle. Hepatic glycogen levels were significantly increased 4-fold. Female GSK-3beta transgenic mice did not develop glucose intolerance despite 7-fold overexpression of GSK-3beta protein and a 20% reduction in glycogen synthase activation in skeletal muscle. However, plasma NEFAs and muscle IRS-1 protein levels were unchanged in females. We conclude that overexpression of human GSK-3beta in skeletal muscle of male mice resulted in impaired glucose tolerance despite raised insulin levels, consistent with the possibility that elevated levels of GSK-3 in type 2 diabetes are partly responsible for insulin resistance.

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