AICAR treatment for 14 days normalizes obesity-induced dysregulation of TORC1 signaling and translational capacity in fasted skeletal muscle

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 Dec;299(6):R1546-54. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00337.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


The aim of this study was to determine the effect of 14 days of 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1β-4-ribofuranoside (AICAR) treatment on mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling and mTOR-regulated processes (i.e., translation initiation) in obese mouse skeletal muscle. Our hypothesis was that daily treatment (14 days) with AICAR would normalize obesity-induced alterations in skeletal muscle mTOR signaling and mTOR-regulated processes to lean levels and positively affect muscle mass. Fourteen-week-old male, lean (L; 31.3 g body wt) wild-type and ob/ob (O; 59.6 g body wt) mice were injected with the AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) activator AICAR (A) at 0.5 mg·g body wt(-1)·day(-1) or saline control (C) for 14 days. At 24 h after the last injection (including a 12-h fast), all mice were killed, and the plantar flexor complex muscle (gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris) was excised for analysis. Muscle mass was lower in OC (159 ± 12 mg) than LC, LA, and OA (176 ± 10, 178 ± 9, and 166 ± 16 mg, respectively) mice, independent of a body weight change. A decrease in obese muscle mass corresponded with higher muscle cross section staining intensity for lipid and glycogen, higher blood glucose and insulin levels, and lower nuclear-enriched fractions for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α protein expression in OC skeletal muscle, which was normalized with AICAR treatment. AMPK and acetyl-cocarboxylase phosphorylation was reduced in OC mice and augmented by AICAR treatment in OA mice. Conversely, OC mice displayed higher activation of downstream targets (S6 kinase-1 and ribosomal protein S6) of mTOR and lower raptor-associated mTOR than LC mice, which were reciprocally altered after 14 days of AICAR treatment. Dysregulation of translational capacity was improved in OA mice, as assessed by sucrose density gradient fractionation of ribosomes, total and ribosome-associated RNA content, eukaryotic initiation factor 4F complex formation, and eukaryotic initiation factor 4G phosphorylation. These data show that short-term (14 days) AMPK agonist treatment augments regulatory processes in atrophic obese mouse skeletal muscle through the normalization of mTOR signaling and mRNA translation closer to lean levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide / pharmacology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blotting, Western
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4G / metabolism
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Obese
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Biosynthesis / drug effects*
  • Ribonucleotides / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Crtc1 protein, mouse
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4G
  • Insulin
  • Ribonucleotides
  • Transcription Factors
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • AICA ribonucleotide