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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2013 Sep 25;378(1-2):59-69. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2012.05.017. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Metabolic actions of angiotensin II and insulin: a microvascular endothelial balancing act.

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Clinical Endocrine Section, Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States. Electronic address:


Metabolic actions of insulin to promote glucose disposal are augmented by nitric oxide (NO)-dependent increases in microvascular blood flow to skeletal muscle. The balance between NO-dependent vasodilator actions and endothelin-1-dependent vasoconstrictor actions of insulin is regulated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-dependent (PI3K)--and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent signaling in vascular endothelium, respectively. Angiotensin II acting on AT₂ receptor increases capillary blood flow to increase insulin-mediated glucose disposal. In contrast, AT₁ receptor activation leads to reduced NO bioavailability, impaired insulin signaling, vasoconstriction, and insulin resistance. Insulin-resistant states are characterized by dysregulated local renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). Under insulin-resistant conditions, pathway-specific impairment in PI3K-dependent signaling may cause imbalance between production of NO and secretion of endothelin-1, leading to decreased blood flow, which worsens insulin resistance. Similarly, excess AT₁ receptor activity in the microvasculature may selectively impair vasodilation while simultaneously potentiating the vasoconstrictor actions of insulin. Therapeutic interventions that target pathway-selective impairment in insulin signaling and the imbalance in AT₁ and AT₂ receptor signaling in microvascular endothelium may simultaneously ameliorate endothelial dysfunction and insulin resistance. In the present review, we discuss molecular mechanisms in the endothelium underlying microvascular and metabolic actions of insulin and Angiotensin II, the mechanistic basis for microvascular endothelial dysfunction and insulin resistance in RAAS dysregulated clinical states, and the rationale for therapeutic strategies that restore the balance in vasodilator and constrictor actions of insulin and Angiotensin II in the microvasculature.


Angiotensin II; Endothelial dysfunction; Insulin resistance; Nitric oxide

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