Aims/hypothesis: Although the substitution of saturated fatty acids with oleate has been recommended in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus, the mechanisms by which oleate improves insulin resistance in skeletal muscle cells are not completely known. Here, we examined whether oleate, through activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), prevented palmitate-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, which is involved in the link between lipid-induced inflammation and insulin resistance.
Methods: Studies were conducted in mouse C2C12 myotubes and in the human myogenic cell line LHCN-M2. To analyse the involvement of AMPK, activators and inhibitors of this kinase and overexpression of a dominant negative AMPK construct (K45R) were used.
Results: Palmitate increased the levels of ER stress markers, whereas oleate did not. In palmitate-exposed cells incubated with a lower concentration of oleate, the effects of palmitate were prevented. The induction of ER stress markers by palmitate was prevented by the presence of the AMPK activators AICAR and A-769662. Moreover, the ability of oleate to prevent palmitate-induced ER stress and inflammation (nuclear factor-kappa B [NF-κB] DNA-binding activity and expression and secretion of IL6) as well as insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and 2-deoxyglucose uptake was reversed in the presence of the AMPK inhibitor compound C or by overexpression of a dominant negative AMPK construct. Finally, palmitate reduced phospho-AMPK levels, whereas this was not observed in oleate-exposed cells or in palmitate-exposed cells supplemented with oleate.
Conclusions/interpretation: Overall, these findings indicate that oleate prevents ER stress, inflammation and insulin resistance in palmitate-exposed skeletal muscle cells by activating AMPK.