Sex steroids influence glucose oxidation through modulation of insulin receptor expression and IRS-1 serine phosphorylation in target tissues of adult male rat

Mol Cell Biochem. 2011 Jun;352(1-2):35-45. doi: 10.1007/s11010-011-0737-1. Epub 2011 Feb 8.


Skeletal muscle, liver, and adipose tissue are major insulin responsive target organs that also express androgen receptor. Testosterone (T) plays a role in maintaining normal insulin sensitivity in men but its effects on insulin target tissues are not fully understood. Our previous study showed that orchidectomy impairs glucose oxidation through decreased insulin receptor (IR) mRNA expression in skeletal muscles, liver, and adipose tissue of male rat. Furthermore, T replacement restored IR mRNA expression in skeletal muscles and liver, but did not have any effect in adipose tissue. In the present study, orchidectomy decreased IR mRNA and protein levels in muscle, liver, and adipose tissue. Treatment with a combination of T plus estradiol (E) was necessary to restore the IR mRNA and protein to control levels in adipose tissue. T or E treatment alone had no effect on IR mRNA levels in adipose tissue. T alone also had no effect on the IR protein, whereas E alone had a stimulatory effect. In comparison, in muscle and liver, T or T plus E restored the IR mRNA and protein to control levels. In muscle and liver, E alone had no effect on IR mRNA expression but restored the IR protein. In addition, orchidectomy was seen to have a stimulatory effect on IRS-1 Serine(636/639) phosphorylation in the three tissues studied. Following T, E or combined supplementation to castrated rats, the pattern of IRS-1 serine phosphorylation was restored to normal control levels. Furthermore, orchidectomy decreased serum insulin and glucose oxidation in all three tissues, and this was restored by T and its combination with E replacement, whereas E alone had no effect. It is concluded from the present study that sex steroid deficiency induces impaired glucose oxidation in insulin responsive tissues, which is mediated through reduced IR expression, and increased IRS-1 serine phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • DNA Primers
  • Estradiol / administration & dosage
  • Estradiol / physiology*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins / chemistry
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphorylation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, Insulin / genetics
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism*
  • Serine / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • DNA Primers
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
  • Irs1 protein, rat
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Testosterone
  • Serine
  • Estradiol
  • Receptor, Insulin