Long-term metformin treatment stimulates cardiomyocyte glucose transport through an AMP-activated protein kinase-dependent reduction in GLUT4 endocytosis

J Yang, G D Holman

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67 Citations (Scopus)


Long-term (18 h) metformin treatment of cardiomyocytes increased glucose transport activity 3- to 5-fold, as measured using the phosphorylated sugar 2-deoxy-D-glucose and the nonphosphorylated sugar 3-O-methyl-D-glucose. The affinity for 3-O-methyl-D-glucose transport was not increased by metformin treatment. Total levels of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) were not changed by 18-h culture with or without insulin or metformin treatment. GLUT1 levels were elevated after 18 h in culture, but this increase was not altered by insulin or metformin treatment. Metformin-induced stimulation of transport was not inhibited by treatment with wortmannin and was additive with that of insulin. These data suggest that the metformin effect is mediated by a signaling route independent of phosphatidylinositol 3- kinase and Akt. Surprisingly, however, levels protein kinase and phospho-Akt were increased 4- and 3-fold, respectively, after metformin treatment. Chronic treatment with insulin for 18 h led to down-regulation of insulin-stimulated glucose transport. Cotreatment with metformin bypassed this insulin resistance by maintaining high transport levels. These data also indicate an independent point of convergence of metformin and insulin stimuli on GLUT4 regulatory processes. To test the possibility of altered GLUT4 subcellular trafficking, the kinetics of GLUT4 exocytosis and endocytosis were determined. Metformin treatment markedly slowed endocytosis of GLUT4, but exocytosis was not increased. We conclude that metformin treatment leads to a longer residence time of GLUT4 in the plasma membrane due to an AMP-activated protein kinase-dependent reduction in endocytosis. This accounts for metformin's ability to enhance hexose transport activity above insulin-stimulated and Akt-dependent levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2728-2736
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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