Invited review: Exercise training-induced changes in insulin signaling in skeletal muscle

Author(s): Zierath JR


This review will provide insight on the current understanding of the intracellular signaling mechanisms by which exercise training increases glucose metabolism and gene expression in skeletal muscle. Participation in regular exercise programs can have important clinical implications, leading to improved health in insulin-resistant persons. Evidence is emerging that insulin signal transduction at the level of insulin receptor substrates 1 and 2, as well as phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, is enhanced in skeletal muscle after exercise training. This is clinically relevant because insulin signaling is impaired in skeletal muscle from insulin-resistant Type 2 diabetic and obese humans. The molecular mechanism for enhanced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake after exercise training may be partly related to increased expression and activity of key proteins known to regulate glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle. Exercise also leads to an insulin-independent increase in glucose transport, mediated in part by AMP-activated protein kinase. Changes in protein expression may be related to increased signal transduction through the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling cascades, a pathway known to regulate transcriptional activity. Understanding the molecular mechanism for the activation of insulin signal transduction pathways after exercise training may provide novel entry points for new strategies to enhance glucose metabolism and for improved health in the general population.

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