Despite the promising effects of resveratrol, its efficacy in the clinic remains controversial. We were the first group to report that the SIRT1 activator resveratrol activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) (Diabetes 2005; 54: A383), and we think that the variability of this cascade may be responsible for the inconsistency of resveratrol's effects. Our current studies suggest that the effect of SIRT1 activators such as resveratrol may not be solely through activation of SIRT1, but also through an integrated effect of SIRT1-liver kinase B1 (LKB1)-AMPK. In this context, resveratrol activates SIRT1 (1) by directly binding to SIRT1; and (2) by increasing NAD⁺ levels by upregulating the salvage pathway through Nampt activation, an effect mediated by AMPK. The first mechanism promotes deacetylation of a limited number of SIRT1 substrate proteins (e.g., PGC-1). The second mechanism (which may be more important than the first) activates other sirtuins in addition to SIRT1, which affects a broad spectrum of substrates. Despite these findings, detailed mechanisms of how resveratrol activates AMPK have not been reported. Here, we show that (1) resveratrol-induced activation of AMPK requires the presence of functional LKB1; (2) Resveratrol increases LKB1 activity, which involves translocation and phosphorylation at T336 and S428; (3) Activation of LKB1 causes proteasomal degradation of LKB1; (4) At high concentrations (50-100 µM), resveratrol also activates AMPK through increasing AMP levels; and (5) The above-mentioned activation mechanisms vary among cell types, and in some cell types, resveratrol fails to activate AMPK. These results suggest that resveratrol-induced activation of AMPK is not a ubiquitous phenomenon. In addition, AMPK-mediated increases in NAD⁺ in the second mechanism require several ATPs, which may not be available in many pathological conditions. These phenomena may explain why resveratrol is not always consistently beneficial in a clinical setting.
Keywords: AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK); SIRT1; liver kinase B (LKB1); resveratrol.