Stimulation of cardiac glucose transport by thioctic acid and insulin

Horm Metab Res. 1999 Dec;31(12):632-5. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-978811.


Thioctic acid (alpha-lipoic acid) has been shown to improve insulin-regulated glucose disposal in animal models of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetic patients. In the present study, we have used isolated adult ventricular cardiomyocytes in order to analyze 1) direct effects of this compound on glucose uptake in a primary muscle cell, and 2) the interaction with the insulin signalling cascade. Both insulin and thioctic acid (2.5 mM) induced a rapid increase in 3-O-methylglucose transport to 322+/-43 and 385+/-58 (n = 5) percent of basal control, respectively. Combined stimulation did not result in an additional significant increase in the transport rate. Preincubation of cardiomyocytes with the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin completely abolished the effects of insulin and thioctic acid, whereas gamma-linolenic acid selectively blocked the effect of this compound. These data show that thioctic acid mimics insulin action by activating the signalling cascade at or before the level of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3-O-Methylglucose / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Insulin / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / enzymology*
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Thioctic Acid / pharmacology*
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • 3-O-Methylglucose
  • Thioctic Acid
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases