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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Dec;17 Suppl 3:S15-20. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.383.

Improved insulin sensitivity after exercise: focus on insulin signaling.

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The Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Molecular Physiology Group, Section of Human Physiology, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


After a single bout of exercise, the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake is markedly improved locally in the previously active muscles. This makes exercise a potent stimulus counteracting insulin resistance characterizing type 2 diabetes (T2D). It is believed that at least part of the mechanism relates to an improved ability of insulin to stimulate translocation of glucose transporters (GLUT4) to the muscle membrane after exercise. How this is accomplished is still unclear; however, an obvious possibility is that exercise interacts with the insulin signaling pathway to GLUT4 translocation allowing for a more potent insulin response. Parallel to unraveling of the insulin signaling cascade, this has been investigated within the past 25 years. Reviewing existing studies clearly indicates that improved insulin action can occur independent of interactions with proximal insulin signaling. In contrast, more recent observations indicate that interactions exist at the distal signaling level of AS160 and atypical protein kinase C (aPKC). Although the functional interpretation is lacking, these novel observations may present a breakthrough in understanding the beneficial interplay between exercise and insulin action.

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