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J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):415-20.

Chromium picolinate enhances skeletal muscle cellular insulin signaling in vivo in obese, insulin-resistant JCR:LA-cp rats.

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Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Division of Nutrition and Chronic Diseases, Louisiana state University System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.


Chromium is one of the few trace minerals for which a specific cellular mechanism of action has not been identified. Recent in vitro studies suggest that chromium supplementation may improve insulin sensitivity by enhancing insulin receptor signaling, but this has not been demonstrated in vivo. We investigated the effect of chromium supplementation on insulin receptor signaling in an insulin-resistant rat model, the JCR:LA-corpulent rat. Male JCR:LA-cp rats (4 mo of age) were randomly assigned to receive chromium picolinate (CrPic) (obese n=6, lean n=5) or vehicle (obese n=5, lean n=5) for 3 mo. The CrPic was provided in the water, and based on calculated water intake, rats randomized to CrPic received 80 microg/(kg.d). At the end of the study, skeletal muscle (vastus lateralis) biopsies were obtained at baseline and at 5, 15, and 30 min postinsulin stimulation to assess insulin signaling. Obese rats treated with CrPic had significantly improved glucose disposal rates and demonstrated a significant increase in insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 and phosphatidylinositol (PI)-3 kinase activity in skeletal muscle compared with obese controls. The increase in cellular signaling was not associated with increased protein levels of the IRS proteins, PI-3 kinase or Akt. However, protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) levels were significantly lower in obese rats administered CrPic than obese controls. When corrected for protein content, PTP1B activity was also significantly lower in obese rats administered CrPic than obese controls. Our data suggest that chromium supplementation of obese, insulin-resistant rats may improve insulin action by enhancing intracellular signaling.

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