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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov;291(5):E867-77. Epub 2006 Jul 5.

AMP-activated protein kinase and the regulation of glucose transport.

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Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center and Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an energy-sensing enzyme that is activated by acute increases in the cellular [AMP]/[ATP] ratio. In skeletal and/or cardiac muscle, AMPK activity is increased by stimuli such as exercise, hypoxia, ischemia, and osmotic stress. There are many lines of evidence that increasing AMPK activity in skeletal muscle results in increased rates of glucose transport. Although similar to the effects of insulin to increase glucose transport in muscle, it is clear that the underlying mechanisms for AMPK-mediated glucose transport involve proximal signals that are distinct from that of insulin. Here, we discuss the evidence for AMPK regulation of glucose transport in skeletal and cardiac muscle and describe research investigating putative signaling mechanisms mediating this effect. We also discuss evidence that AMPK may play a role in enhancing muscle and whole body insulin sensitivity for glucose transport under conditions such as exercise, as well as the use of the AMPK activator AICAR to reverse insulin-resistant conditions. The identification of AMPK as a novel glucose transport mediator in skeletal muscle is providing important insights for the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

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