Increased hexosamine pathway flux and high fat feeding are not additive in inducing insulin resistance: evidence for a shared pathway
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Excess fatty acids and carbohydrates have both been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, and both can reproduce essential features of the disease including insulin resistance and beta cell failure. It has been proposed that both nutrients may regulate metabolism through a common fuel sensing mechanism, namely hexosamine synthesis. We have previously shown that transgenic overexpression of the rate-limiting enzyme for hexosamine synthesis, glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase (GFA), targeted to muscle and fat, leads to insulin resistance mediated by increased O-linked glycosylation of nuclear and cytosolic proteins. We report here that hexosamine-induced insulin resistance is not additive with that induced by high fat feeding. In control mice fed a high fat diet, glucose disposal rates during euglycemic hyperinsulinemia were decreased by 37% (p < 0.02) compared to mice on a low fat diet. Transgenic mice overexpressing GFA and fed a low fat diet exhibited a 51% decrease in glucose disposal compared to controls on a low fat diet (p < 0.001), but no further decrease was evident in the transgenic mice fed a high fat diet. Decreased glucose disposal rates were mirrored by increases in skeletal muscle levels of the principal end product of the hexosamine pathway, UDP-N-acetyl glucosamine. Serum leptin levels, which are modulated both by feeding and hexosamine flux, also show no additivity in their stimulation by GFA overexpression and high fat feeding. These data are consistent with a shared nutrient sensing pathway for high fat and carbohydrate fluxes and a common pathway by which glucose and lipids induce insulin resistance.