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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2006 Jul;291(1):H239-50. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

AMPK activation restores the stimulation of glucose uptake in an in vitro model of insulin-resistant cardiomyocytes via the activation of protein kinase B.

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Division of Cardiology, School of Medicine, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Diabetic hearts are known to be more susceptible to ischemic disease. Biguanides, like metformin, are known antidiabetic drugs that lower blood glucose concentrations by decreasing hepatic glucose production and increasing glucose disposal in muscle. Part of these metabolic effects is thought to be mediated by the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). In this work, we studied the relationship between AMPK activation and glucose uptake stimulation by biguanides and oligomycin, another AMPK activator, in both insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant cardiomyocytes. In insulin-sensitive cardiomyocytes, insulin, biguanides and oligomycin were able to stimulate glucose uptake with the same efficiency. Stimulation of glucose uptake by insulin or biguanides was correlated to protein kinase B (PKB) or AMPK activation, respectively, and were additive. In insulin-resistant cardiomyocytes, where insulin stimulation of glucose uptake was greatly reduced, biguanides or oligomycin, in the absence of insulin, induced a higher stimulation of glucose uptake than that obtained in insulin-sensitive cells. This stimulation was correlated with the activation of both AMPK and PKB and was sensitive to the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/PKB pathway inhibitors. Finally, an adenoviral-mediated expression of a constitutively active form of AMPK increased both PKB phosphorylation and glucose uptake in insulin-resistant cardiomyocytes. We concluded that AMPK activators, like biguanides and oligomycin, are able to restore glucose uptake stimulation, in the absence of insulin, in insulin-resistant cardiomyocytes via the additive activation of AMPK and PKB. Our results suggest that AMPK activation could restore normal glucose metabolism in diabetic hearts and could be a potential therapeutic approach to treat insulin resistance.

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