Skeletal muscle is a key target organ for insulin's actions and is the main regulator of blood glucose. In obese individuals and animal models, there is a chronic low-grade inflammatory state affecting highly metabolic organs, leading to insulin resistance. We have described that adult skeletal muscle fibres can release ATP to the extracellular medium through pannexin-1 (PANX1) channels. Besides, it is known that high extracellular ATP concentrations can act as an inflammatory signal. Here, we propose that skeletal muscle fibres from obese mice release high levels of ATP, through PANX1 channels, promoting inflammation and insulin resistance in muscle cells.C57BL/6J mice were fed with normal control diet (NCD) or high-fat diet (HFD) for 8 weeks. Muscle fibres were isolated from flexor digitorum brevis (FDB) muscle. PANX1-knockdown FDB fibres were obtained by in vivo electroporation of a short hairpin RNA Panx1 plasmid. We analysed extracellular ATP levels in a luciferin/luciferase assay. Gene expression was studied with quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Protein levels were evaluated by immunoblots, ELISA and immunofluorescence. Insulin sensitivity was analysed in a 2-NBDG (fluorescent glucose analogue) uptake assay, immunoblots and IPGTT.HFD-fed mice showed significant weight gain and insulin resistance compared with NCD-fed mice. IL-6, IL-1β and TNF-α protein levels were increased in FDB muscle from obese mice. We observed high levels of extracellular ATP in muscle fibres from obese mice (197 ± 55 pmol ATP/μg RNA) compared with controls (32 ± 10 pmol ATP/μg RNA). ATP release in obese mice fibres was reduced by application of 100 μmol/l oleamide (OLE) and 5 μmol/l carbenoxolone (CBX), both PANX1 blockers. mRNA levels of genes linked to inflammation were reduced using OLE, CBX or 2 U/ml ATPase apyrase in muscle fibres from HFD-fed mice. In fibres from mice with pannexin-1 knockdown, we observed diminished extracellular ATP levels (78 ± 10 pmol ATP/μg RNA vs 252 ± 37 pmol ATP/μg RNA in control mice) and a lower expression of inflammatory markers. Moreover, a single pulse of 300 μmol/l ATP to fibres from control mice reduced insulin-mediated 2-NBDG uptake and promoted an elevation in mRNA levels of inflammatory markers. PANX-1 protein levels were increased two- to threefold in skeletal muscle from obese mice compared with control mice. Incubation with CBX increased Akt activation and 2-NBDG uptake in HFD fibres after insulin stimulation, rescuing the insulin resistance condition. Finally, in vivo treatment of HFD-fed mice with CBX (i.p. injection of 10 mg/kg each day) for 14 days, compared with PBS, reduced extracellular ATP levels in skeletal muscle fibres (51 ± 10 pmol ATP/μg RNA vs 222 ± 28 pmol ATP/μg RNA in PBS-treated mice), diminished inflammation and improved glycaemic management.In this work, we propose a novel mechanism for the development of inflammation and insulin resistance in the skeletal muscle of obese mice. We found that high extracellular ATP levels, released by overexpressed PANX1 channels, lead to an inflammatory state and insulin resistance in skeletal muscle fibres of obese mice.
Authors: Gonzalo Jorquera, Roberto Meneses-Valdés, Giovanni Rosales-Soto, Denisse Valladares-Ide, Cristian Campos, Mónica Silva-Monasterio, Paola Llanos, Gonzalo Cruz, Enrique Jaimovich, Mariana Casas