Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Dec;291(6):E1341-50. Epub 2006 Jul 18.

Apoptosis in skeletal muscle myotubes is induced by ceramides and is positively related to insulin resistance.

Author information

St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, Fitzroy, Victoria 3064, Australia.


Fatty acid-induced apoptosis occurs in pancreatic beta-cells and contributes to the metabolic syndrome. Skeletal muscle insulin resistance is mediated by fatty acid oversupply, which also contributes to the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, we examined whether fatty acids induce apoptosis in skeletal muscle myotubes, the proapoptotic signaling involved, and the effects on insulin sensitivity. Exposure of L6 myotubes to palmitate induced apoptosis, as demonstrated by increased caspase-3 activation, phosphatidylserine exposure on the plasma membrane, and terminal deoxynucleotide transferase dUTP nick end labeling and DNA laddering, both markers of DNA fragmentation. Ceramide content was concomitantly increased, indicating a potential role for ceramides in palmitate-induced apoptosis. Supporting this notion, reducing stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD-1) protein content with short interfering RNA resulted in ceramide accumulation and was associated with increased apoptosis in the absence of palmitate. Furthermore, the membrane-permeable C(2)-ceramide enhanced apoptosis in myotubes, whereas the ceramide synthase inhibitor, fumonisin B(1), abrogated the proapoptotic effects of palmitate. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was inhibited by palmitate treatment, whereas the addition of effector caspase inhibitors [Ac-DEVD-aldehyde (DEVD-CHO), Z-DQMD-FMK] independently restored >80% of the insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. These effects were observed independently from changes in the protein content of insulin signaling proteins, suggesting that proteosomal degradation is not involved in this process. We conclude that lipoapoptosis occurs in skeletal muscle myotubes, at least partially via de novo ceramide accumulation, and that inhibiting downstream apoptotic signaling improves glucose uptake in vitro.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center