The plant hormone abscisic acid increases in human plasma after hyperglycemia and stimulates glucose consumption by adipocytes and myoblasts

FASEB J. 2012 Mar;26(3):1251-60. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-190140. Epub 2011 Nov 10.


The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is released from glucose-challenged human pancreatic β cells and stimulates insulin secretion. We investigated whether plasma ABA increased during oral and intravenous glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs and IVGTTs) in healthy human subjects. In all subjects undergoing OGTTs (n=8), plasma ABA increased over basal values (in a range from 2- to 9-fold). A positive correlation was found between the ABA area under the curve (AUC) and the glucose AUC. In 4 out of 6 IVGTTs, little or no increase of ABA levels was observed. In the remaining subjects, the ABA increase was similar to that recorded during OGTTs. GLP-1 stimulated ABA release from an insulinoma cell line and from human islets, by ∼10- and 2-fold in low and high glucose, respectively. Human adipose tissue also released ABA in response to high glucose. Nanomolar ABA stimulated glucose uptake, similarly to insulin, in rat L6 myoblasts and in murine 3T3-L1 cells differentiated to adipocytes, by increasing GLUT-4 translocation to the plasma membrane. Demonstration that a glucose load in humans is followed by a physiological rise of plasma ABA, which can enhance glucose uptake by adipose tissues and muscle cells, identifies ABA as a new mammalian hormone involved in glucose metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Abscisic Acid / blood*
  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Glucose / pharmacokinetics
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / blood*
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Myoblasts / cytology
  • Myoblasts / drug effects*
  • Myoblasts / metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptors, Glucagon / genetics
  • Receptors, Glucagon / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • GLP1R protein, human
  • Glp1r protein, mouse
  • Glp1r protein, rat
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Receptors, Glucagon
  • Abscisic Acid
  • Glucose