Long-term AICAR administration reduces metabolic disturbances and lowers blood pressure in rats displaying features of the insulin resistance syndrome

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Esben Selmer Buhl, Niels Jessen, Rasmus Pold, Thomas Ledet, Allan Flyvbjerg, Steen B Pedersen, Oluf Pedersen, Ole Schmitz, Sten Lund

The insulin resistance syndrome is characterized by several risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Chronic chemical activation of AMP-activated protein kinase by the adenosine analog 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta -D-ribofuranoside (AICAR) has been shown to augment insulin action, upregulate mitochondrial enzymes in skeletal muscles, and decrease the content of intra-abdominal fat. Furthermore, acute AICAR exposure has been found to reduce sterol and fatty acid synthesis in rat hepatocytes incubated in vitro as well as suppress endogenous glucose production in rats under euglycemic clamp conditions. To investigate whether chronic AICAR administration, in addition to the beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity, is capable of improving other phenotypes associated with the insulin resistance syndrome, obese Zucker (fa/fa) rats (n = 6) exhibiting insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension were subcutaneously injected with AICAR (0.5 mg/g body wt) daily for 7 weeks. Obese control rats were either pair-fed (PF) (n = 6) or ad libitum-fed (AL) (n = 6). Lean Zucker rats (fa/-) (n = 8) served as a reference group. AICAR administration significantly reduced plasma triglyceride levels (P <0.01 for AICAR vs. AL, and P = 0.05 for AICAR vs. PF) and free fatty acids (P <0.01 for AICAR vs. AL, and P <0.05 for AICAR vs. PF) and increased HDL cholesterol levels (P <0.01 for AICAR vs. AL and PF). AICAR treatment also lowered systolic blood pressure by 14.6 +/- 4.3 mmHg (P <0.05), and AICAR-treated animals exhibited a tendency toward decreased intra-abdominal fat content. Furthermore, AICAR administration normalized the oral glucose tolerance test and decreased fasting concentrations of glucose and insulin close to the level of the lean animals. Finally, in line with previous findings, AICAR treatment was also found to enhance GLUT4 protein expression and to increase maximally insulin-stimulated glucose transport in primarily white fast-twitch muscles. Our data provide strong evidence that long-term administration of AICAR improves glucose tolerance, improves the lipid profile, and reduces systolic blood pressure in an insulin-resistant animal model. The present study gives additional support to the hypothesis that AMPK activation might be a potential future pharmacological strategy for treating the insulin resistance syndrome.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)2199-206
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2002

    Research areas

  • 3-O-Methylglucose, Adenylate Kinase, Aminoimidazole Carboxamide, Animals, Blood Glucose, Blood Pressure, Glucose Clamp Technique, Glucose Transporter Type 4, Hypertension, Insulin Resistance, Male, Metabolic Syndrome X, Monosaccharide Transport Proteins, Muscle Proteins, Rats, Rats, Zucker, Ribonucleotides, Syndrome

ID: 38454680