Published online Jul 7, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i25.5769
Peer-review started: March 4, 2016
First decision: April 1, 2016
Revised: April 12, 2016
Accepted: May 4, 2016
Article in press: May 4, 2016
Published online: July 7, 2016
AIM: To investigated the effects of urotensin II (UII) on hepatic insulin resistance in HepG2 cells and the potential mechanisms involved.
METHODS: Human hepatoma HepG2 cells were cultured with or without exogenous UII for 24 h, in the presence or absence of 100 nmol/L insulin for the last 30 min. Glucose levels were detected by the glucose-oxidase method and glycogen synthesis was analyzed by glycogen colorimetric/fluorometric assay. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were detected with a multimode reader using a 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescein diacetate probe. The protein expression and phosphorylation levels of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), insulin signal essential molecules such as insulin receptor substrate -1 (IRS-1), protein kinase B (Akt), glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), and glucose transporter-2 (Glut 2), and NADPH oxidase subunits such as gp91phox, p67phox, p47phox, p40phox, and p22phox were evaluated by Western blot.
RESULTS: Exposure to 100 nmol/L UII reduced the insulin-induced glucose consumption (P < 0.05) and glycogen content (P < 0.01) in HepG2 cells compared with cells without UII. UII also abolished insulin-stimulated protein expression (P < 0.01) and phosphorylation of IRS-1 (P < 0.05), associated with down-regulation of Akt (P < 0.05) and GSK-3β (P < 0.05) phosphorylation levels, and the expression of Glut 2 (P < 0.001), indicating an insulin-resistance state in HepG2 cells. Furthermore, UII enhanced the phosphorylation of JNK (P < 0.05), while the activity of JNK, insulin signaling, such as total protein of IRS-1 (P < 0.001), phosphorylation of IRS-1 (P < 0.001) and GSK-3β (P < 0.05), and glycogen synthesis (P < 0.001) could be reversed by pretreatment with the JNK inhibitor SP600125. Besides, UII markedly improved ROS generation (P < 0.05) and NADPH oxidase subunit expression (P < 0.05). However, the antioxidant/NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin could decrease UII-induced ROS production (P < 0.05), JNK phosphorylation (P < 0.05), and insulin resistance (P < 0.05) in HepG2 cells.
CONCLUSION: UII induces insulin resistance, and this can be reversed by JNK inhibitor SP600125 and antioxidant/NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin targeting the insulin signaling pathway in HepG2 cells.
Core tip: We report our results on urotensin II (UII) in a newly developed insulin resistance model and the possible mechanisms involved. Exposure to UII may contribute to oxidative damage via the NADPH oxidase pathway and enhance the phosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase, which is associated with insulin signal transduction pathways. These may be the underlying mechanisms of UII-mediated insulin resistance in HepG2 cells. These findings confirm the important role of UII in hepatic insulin resistance, which shed light on new insight into hepatic insulin resistance.