Aims/hypothesis: Glucokinase overexpression in the liver increases glucose uptake and utilization, and improves glucose tolerance in young transgenic mice. Here, we examined the long-term effects of hepatic overexpression of glucokinase on glucose homeostasis. Moreover, we determined whether glucokinase overexpression counteracted high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance.
Methods: Transgenic mice overexpressing glucokinase in liver under the control of the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase promoter, fed either a standard diet or a high-fat diet, were studied. We used non-transgenic littermates as controls.
Results: Transgenic mice over 6 months old developed impaired glucose tolerance. In addition, at 12 months of age, transgenic mice showed mild hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia. In spite of increased glucokinase activity, the liver of these mice accumulated less glycogen and increased triglyceride deposition. When 2-month-old glucose-tolerant mice were fed a high-fat diet, transgenic mice gained more body weight and became hyperglycaemic and hyperinsulinaemic. This was concomitant to glucose intolerance, liver steatosis and whole-body insulin resistance.
Conclusion/interpretation: Long-term overexpression of glucokinase increases hepatic lipogenesis and circulating lipids, which lead to insulin resistance. Our results also suggest that the liver plays a key role in the onset of diabetes.