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Exp Neurol. 2007 Jan;203(1):196-204. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Acetaldehyde promotes rapamycin-dependent activation of p70(S6K) and glucose uptake despite inhibition of Akt and mTOR in dopaminergic SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells.

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Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Center for Cardiovascular Research and Alternative Medicine, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.


Alcohol intake is one of the important lifestyle factors for the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Acetaldehyde, the major ethanol metabolite which is far more reactive than ethanol, has been postulated to participate in alcohol-induced tissue injury although its direct impact on insulin signaling is unclear. This study was designed to examine the effect of acetaldehyde on glucose uptake and insulin signaling in human dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells. Akt, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), ribosomal-S6 kinase (p70(S6K)), the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E)-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) and insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-2 were evaluated by Western blot analysis. Glucose uptake and apoptosis were measured using [(3)H]-2-deoxyglucose uptake and caspase-3 assay, respectively. Short-term exposure (12 h) of acetaldehyde (150 muM) facilitated glucose uptake in a rapamycin-dependent manner without affecting apoptosis, IRS-2 expression and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in SH-SY5Y cells. Acetaldehyde suppressed basal and insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation without affecting total Akt expression. Acetaldehyde inhibited mTOR phosphorylation without affecting total mTOR and insulin-elicited response on mTOR phosphorylation. Rapamycin, which inhibits mTOR leading to inactivation of p70(S6K), did not affect acetaldehyde-induced inhibition on phosphorylation of Akt and mTOR. Interestingly, acetaldehyde enhanced p70(S6K) activation and depressed 4E-BP1 phosphorylation, the effect of which was blunted and exaggerated, respectively, by rapamycin. Collectively, these data suggested that acetaldehyde did not adversely affect glucose uptake despite inhibition of insulin signaling cascade at the levels of Akt and mTOR, possibly due to presence of certain mechanism(s) responsible for enhanced p70(S6K) phosphorylation.

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