Imeglimin is the first in a new class of oral glucose-lowering agents currently in phase 2b development. Although imeglimin improves insulin sensitivity in humans, the molecular mechanisms are unknown. This study used a model of 16-week high-fat, high-sucrose diet (HFHSD) mice to characterize its antidiabetic effects. Six-week imeglimin treatment significantly decreased glycemia, restored normal glucose tolerance, and improved insulin sensitivity without modifying organs, body weights, and food intake. This was associated with an increase in insulin-stimulated protein kinase B phosphorylation in the liver and muscle. In liver mitochondria, imeglimin redirects substrate flows in favor of complex II, as illustrated by increased respiration with succinate and by the restoration of respiration with glutamate/malate back to control levels. In addition, imeglimin inhibits complex I and restores complex III activities, suggesting an increase in fatty acid oxidation, which is supported by an increase in hepatic 3-hydroxyacetyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity and acylcarnitine profile and the reduction of liver steatosis. Imeglimin also reduces reactive oxygen species production and increases mitochondrial DNA. Finally, imeglimin effects on mitochondrial phospholipid composition could participate in the benefit of imeglimin on mitochondrial function. In conclusion, imeglimin normalizes glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity by preserving mitochondrial function from oxidative stress and favoring lipid oxidation in liver of HFHSD mice.
© 2015 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.