The lipid peroxidation by-product 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE) induces insulin resistance in skeletal muscle through both carbonyl and oxidative stress

Endocrinology. 2012 May;153(5):2099-111. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-1957. Epub 2012 Mar 6.


Numerous oxidants are produced as by-products of aerobic cell metabolism, and there is growing evidence that they play key roles in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance. Under conditions of oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation of ω6-polyunsaturated fatty acids leads to the production of 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE). Several lines of evidence suggest that 4-HNE could be involved in the pathophysiology of metabolic diseases; therefore, in this study we assessed the direct effects of 4-HNE on skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity. Gastrocnemius muscle and L6 muscle cells were treated with 4-HNE. Insulin signaling was measured by Western blotting and glucose uptake using 2-deoxy-d-[3H]glucose. Carbonyl stress, glutathione content, and oxidative stress were assessed as potential mechanisms leading to insulin resistance. Protection of cells was induced by pretreatment with 3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione, N-acetyl-cysteine, aminoguanidine, or S-adenosyl-methionine. 4-HNE induced a time- and dose-dependent decrease in insulin signaling and insulin-induced glucose uptake in muscle. It induced a state of carbonyl stress through adduction of proteins as well as a depletion in reduced glutathione and production of radical oxygen species. A pharmacological increase in glutathione pools was achieved by 3H-1,2-dithiole-3-thione and protected the cells against all deleterious effects of 4-HNE; furthermore, N-acetylcysteine, aminoguanidine, and S-adenosylmethionine prevented 4-HNE noxious effects. 4-HNE can impair insulin action in muscle cells through oxidative stress and oxidative damage to proteins, eventually leading to insulin resistance. These deleterious effects can be prevented by pretreatment with antioxidants, scavengers, or an increase in intracellular glutathione pools. Use of such molecules could represent a novel strategy to combat insulin resistance and other oxidative stress-associated pathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehydes / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Aldehydes
  • Insulin
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Glutathione
  • 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal