Liver-selective glucocorticoid receptor antagonism decreases glucose production and increases glucose disposal, ameliorating insulin resistance

Metabolism. 2007 Mar;56(3):380-7. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2006.10.021.


It is unclear how hepatic glucocorticoid receptor (GR) function and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis tone contribute to the diabetic state and in particular whole-body glucose fluxes. We have previously demonstrated that long-term exposure to hepatic GR inhibition lowers glucose levels in ob/ob mice (J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2005;314:191). The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a novel GR antagonist (A-348441) on whole-body glucose fluxes in a model of insulin resistance, the Zucker fatty (fa/fa) rat. After an overnight fast, euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp studies were performed 2 hours after single oral dosing as follows: (1) A-348441 at 100 mg/kg or (2) vehicle. Furthermore, effects of 1 week of treatment with either vehicle or A-348441 (3, 10, 30, or 100 mg/kg PO, once per day) were investigated in separate groups of rats fasted overnight and given a final dose of their respective compound, followed 2 hours later by a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp. One week after catheter implantation, body weight returned to presurgery levels, with no difference between groups. A single, 100-mg/kg dose of A-348441 significantly increased glucose infusion rate 4-fold (P < .05) and reduced endogenous glucose production by 37% (P < .05) but did not change glucose disposal. After 1 week of sub-long-term dosing, fasting glucose levels were reduced dose-dependently with A-348441 vs vehicle (-8%, not significant; -14%, -20%, and -25%, P < .05, at 3, 10, 30, and 100 mg/kg, respectively) with no observed hypoglycemia or change in fasting insulin levels. A-348441 increased the glucose infusion rates after 1-week treatment by 1.3-, 5.7-, 7.3-, and 6.4-fold (P < .05). Endogenous glucose production was decreased (-25%, -44%, -50%, and -61%, P < .05), whereas glucose disposal was increased (29% and 13%, not significant; 23% and 34%, P < .05), with A-348441. In summary, single-dose treatment with the liver-selective GR antagonist A-348441 decreases glucose production with no effect on glucose disposal or fasting glucose levels. After 1 week of treatment with A-348441, (1) there was no effect on body weight, (2) fasting glucose levels decreased, (3) both glucose disposal and glucose infusion rate increased during clamping, and (4) endogenous glucose production was greatly reduced. In addition, hepatic glucose production was highly correlated with fasting glucose levels (r = 0.97). In conclusion, these results indicate that A-348441 increases insulin sensitivity at both the liver and peripheral tissues, leading toward a normalization of the insulin resistant state. Furthermore, with 1-week vs single-dose liver-selective glucocorticoid antagonism, we have determined that the peripheral effect is secondary to the primary event of reduced hepatic glucose production. The approach of inhibiting the hepatic GR may be an advantageous treatment paradigm for individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cholic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Estrone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Estrone / pharmacology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • (3b,5b,7a,12a)-7,12-dihydroxy-3-(2-((4-((11b,17b)-17-hydroxy-3-oxo-17-prop-1-ynylestra-4,9-dien-11-yl) phenyl)(methyl)amino)ethoxy)cholan-24-oic acid
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholic Acids
  • Insulin
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Estrone
  • Glucose