Aim/hypothesis: We previously reported that repeated subcutaneous or intracerebroventricular injection of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) reduces blood glucose concentrations in obese diabetic C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. In this study, we assessed the effects of BDNF on insulin action in peripheral tissues of diabetic mice.
Methods: First, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (20 mg/kg) was subcutaneously given to male db/db mice for 14 days and then the insulin-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptors and insulin-stimulated phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase activity in peripheral tissues was assessed. Second, we examined the effects of a single subcutaneous or intracerebroventricular brain-derived neurotrophic factor injection on insulin responsiveness in liver and skeletal muscle of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic mice. Third, the effects of brain-derived neurothrophic factor on insulin action were also examined in cultured cells.
Results: Repeated injection of BDNF to db/db mice for 14 days enhanced insulin-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptors in liver and insulin-stimulated PI 3-kinase activity in liver, skeletal muscle and interscapular brown adipose tissue. We then examined the rapid effect of BDNF on insulin signalling in vivo. A single subcutaneous or intracerebroventricular injection of BDNF rapidly increased insulin-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptors and PI 3-kinase activity in liver of STZ-mice. No direct effect of brain-derived neurothrophic factor was observed on insulin signalling in primary cultured hepatocytes, L6 muscle cells or 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Brain-derived neurothrophic factor did not affect either glucose uptake or gluconeogenesis in these cells.
Conclusion/interpretation: These data indicate that brain-derived neurothrophic factor rapidly enhances insulin signal transduction in liver and shows hypoglycaemic action in diabetic mice.