Molecular characterization of insulin resistance and glycolytic metabolism in the rat uterus

Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 27;6:30679. doi: 10.1038/srep30679.


Peripheral insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism are the primary features of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, how insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism affect uterine function and contribute to the pathogenesis of PCOS are open questions. We treated rats with insulin alone or in combination with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and showed that peripheral insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism alter uterine morphology, cell phenotype, and cell function, especially in glandular epithelial cells. These defects are associated with an aberration in the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway that is used as an indicator for the onset of insulin resistance in classical metabolic tissues. Concomitantly, increased GSK3β (Ser-9) phosphorylation and decreased ERK1/2 phosphorylation in rats treated with insulin and hCG were also observed. We also profiled the expression of glucose transporter (Glut) isoform genes in the uterus under conditions of insulin resistance and/or hyperandrogenism. Finally, we determined the expression pattern of glycolytic enzymes and intermediates during insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in the uterus. These findings suggest that the PI3K/Akt and MAPK/ERK signaling pathways play a role in the onset of uterine insulin resistance, and they also suggest that changes in specific Glut isoform expression and alterations to glycolytic metabolism contribute to the endometrial dysfunction observed in PCOS patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / pharmacology
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / pathology*
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Uterus / pathology


  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative
  • Insulin
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Glucose