2007 Volume 30 Issue 11 Pages 2120-2125
It has recently been known that berberine, an alkaloid of medicinal plants, has anti-hyperglycemic effects. To explore the mechanism underlying this effect, we used 3T3-L1 adipocytes for analyzing the signaling pathways that contribute to glucose transport. Treatment of berberine to 3T3-L1 adipocytes for 6 h enhanced basal glucose uptake both in normal and in insulin-resistant state, but the insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was not augmented significantly. Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-K) by wortmannin did not affect the berberine effect on basal glucose uptake. Berberine did not augment tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptor (IR) and insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1. Further, berberine had no effect on the activity of the insulin-sensitive downstream kinase, atypical protein kinase C (PKCζ/λ). However, interestingly, extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs), which have been known to be responsible for the expression of glucose transporter (GLUT)1, were significantly activated in berberine-treated 3T3-L1 cells. As expected, the level of GLUT1 protein was increased both in normal and insulin-resistant cells in response to berberine. But berberine affected the expression of GLUT4 neither in normal nor in insulin-resistant cells. In addition, berberine treatment increased AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity in 3T3-L1 cells, which has been reported to be associated with GLUT1-mediated glucose uptake. Together, we concluded that berberine increases glucose transport activity of 3T3-L1 adipocytes by enhancing GLUT1 expression and also stimulates the GLUT1-mediated glucose uptake by activating GLUT1, a result of AMPK stimulation.