Gut microbiome catabolites as novel modulators of muscle cell glucose metabolism

FASEB J. 2019 Feb;33(2):1887-1898. doi: 10.1096/fj.201801209R. Epub 2018 Sep 5.


The gut microbiome supplies essential metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids to skeletal muscle mitochondria, and the composition and activity of the microbiota is in turn affected by muscle fitness. To further our understanding of the complex interactions between the gut microbiome and muscle, we examined the effect of microbiota-derived phenolic metabolites on the ability of human muscle cells to take up and metabolize glucose. As a model, we used the differentiated human skeletal muscle myoblast line, LHCN-M2, which expresses typical muscle phenotypic markers. We initially tested a selected panel of parent phenolic compounds and microbial metabolites, and their respective phenolic conjugates, as found in blood. Several of the tested compounds increased glucose uptake and metabolism, notably in high glucose- and insulin-treated myotubes. One of the most effective was isovanillic acid 3 -O-sulfate (IVAS), a metabolite from the microbiome found in the blood, primarily derived from consumed cyanidin 3 -O-glucoside, a major compound in berry fruits. IVAS stimulated a dose-dependent increase in glucose transport through glucose transporter GLUT4- and PI3K-dependent mechanisms. IVAS also up-regulated GLUT1, GLUT4, and PI3K p85α protein, and increased phosphorylation of Akt. The stimulation of glucose uptake and metabolism by a unique microbiome metabolite provides a novel link among diet, gut microbiota, and skeletal muscle energy source utilization.-Houghton, M. J., Kerimi, A., Mouly, V., Tumova, S., Williamson, G. Gut microbiome catabolites as novel modulators of muscle cell glucose metabolism.

Keywords: berry; flavonoid; insulin; microbiota; phenolic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucosides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Vanillic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Vanillic Acid / metabolism


  • Glucosides
  • Muscle Proteins
  • isovanillic acid
  • Vanillic Acid
  • Glucose