Activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is considered a valid strategy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, despite the importance of adipose tissue for whole-body energy homeostasis, the effect of AMPK activation in adipocytes has only been studied to a limited extent and mainly with the AMP-mimetic 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-d-ribofuranoside (AICAR), which has limited specificity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the allosteric AMPK activators A-769662 and 991 on glucose uptake in adipocytes. For this purpose, primary rat or human adipocytes, and cultured 3T3-L1 adipocytes, were treated with either of the allosteric activators, or AICAR, and basal and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was assessed. Additionally, the effect of AMPK activators on insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of Akt and Akt substrate of 160 kDa was assessed. Furthermore, primary adipocytes from ADaM site binding drug-resistant AMPKβ1 S108A knock-in mice were employed to investigate the specificity of the drugs for the observed effects. Our results show that insulin-stimulated adipocyte glucose uptake was significantly reduced by A-769662 but not 991, yet neither activator had any clear effects on basal or insulin-stimulated Akt/AS160 signaling. The use of AMPKβ1 S108A mutant-expressing adipocytes revealed that the observed inhibition of glucose uptake by A-769662 is most likely AMPK-independent, a finding which is supported by the rapid inhibitory effect A-769662 exerts on glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. These data suggest that AMPK activation per se does not inhibit glucose uptake in adipocytes and that the effects of AICAR and A-769662 are AMPK-independent.

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