Insulin-sensitizing effect of rosiglitazone (BRL-49653) by regulation of glucose transporters in muscle and fat of Zucker rats

Metabolism. 2001 Nov;50(11):1294-300. doi: 10.1053/meta.2001.27202.


Thiazolidinediones (TZDs), a class of antidiabetic agents, are specific agonists of peroxisome proliferator activator receptor (PPARgamma). However, their mechanisms of action, and the in vivo target tissues that mediate insulin sensitization are not well understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of glucose transporters (GLUT-1 and GLUT-4) in the TZD insulin-sensitizer action. The effects of rosiglitazone treatment were studied using Zucker (fa/fa) rats after 7 days of oral dosing (3.6 mg/kg/d). Rosiglitazone lowered (approximate 80%) basal plasma insulin levels in obese rats and substantially corrected (approximately 50%) insulin resistance based upon results from hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp studies. GLUT-4 protein levels were reduced (approximately 75%) in adipose tissue of obese rats and treatment with rosiglitazone normalized them. Interestingly, GLUT-1 protein content was increased in adipose tissue ( thick approximate 150%) and skeletal muscle (approximately 50%) of obese rats and treatment with rosiglitazone increased it even more by 5.5-fold in fat and by 2.5-fold in muscle. Consistent with these results, basal (GLUT-1-mediated) transport rate of 3-O-methyl-D-glucose into isolated epitrochlearis muscle was elevated in response to rosiglitazone. Incubation of fully differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes with the drug for 7 days increased the levels of GLUT-1 protein, but did not affect GLUT-4 levels. In conclusion, rosiglitazone may improve insulin resistance in vivo by normalizing GLUT-4 protein content in adipose tissue and increasing GLUT-1 in skeletal muscle and fat. While the drug has a direct effect on GLUT-1 protein expression in vitro without a direct effect on GLUT-4 suggests that direct and indirect effects of rosiglitazone on glucose transporters may have an important role in improving insulin resistance in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle Proteins*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Thiazoles / administration & dosage*
  • Thiazolidinediones*
  • Thinness / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Slc2a1 protein, mouse
  • Slc2a1 protein, rat
  • Slc2a4 protein, mouse
  • Slc2a4 protein, rat
  • Thiazoles
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Glucose