Overexpression of Carnitine Palmitoyltransferase-1 in Skeletal Muscle Is Sufficient to Enhance Fatty Acid Oxidation and Improve High-Fat Diet–Induced Insulin Resistance

  1. Clinton R. Bruce12,
  2. Andrew J. Hoy2,
  3. Nigel Turner2,
  4. Matthew J. Watt34,
  5. Tamara L. Allen1,
  6. Kevin Carpenter56,
  7. Gregory J. Cooney2,
  8. Mark A. Febbraio1 and
  9. Edward W. Kraegen2
  1. 1Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Diabetes and Obesity Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research and Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Department of Physiology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5Department of Biochemical Genetics, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6Discipline of Genetic Medicine, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Corresponding author: Clinton R. Bruce, clinton.bruce{at}baker.edu.au


OBJECTIVE—Skeletal muscle insulin resistance is associated with lipid accumulation, but whether insulin resistance is due to reduced or enhanced flux of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria is both controversial and unclear. We hypothesized that skeletal muscle–specific overexpression of the muscle isoform of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1), the enzyme that controls the entry of long-chain fatty acyl CoA into mitochondria, would enhance rates of fatty acid oxidation and improve insulin action in muscle in high-fat diet insulin-resistant rats.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Rats were fed a standard (chow) or high-fat diet for 4 weeks. After 3 weeks, in vivo electrotransfer was used to overexpress the muscle isoform of CPT1 in the distal hindlimb muscles (tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus [EDL]). Skeletal muscle insulin action was examined in vivo during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp.

RESULTS—In vivo electrotransfer produced a physiologically relevant increase of ∼20% in enzyme activity; and although the high-fat diet produced insulin resistance in the sham-treated muscle, insulin action was improved in the CPT1-overexpressing muscle. This improvement was associated with a reduction in triacylglycerol content, the membrane-to-cytosolic ratio of diacylglycerol, and protein kinase C θ activity. Importantly, overexpression of CPT1 did not affect markers of mitochondrial capacity or function, nor did it alter skeletal muscle acylcarnitine profiles irrespective of diet.

CONCLUSIONS—Our data provide clear evidence that a physiological increase in the capacity of long-chain fatty acyl CoA entry into mitochondria is sufficient to ameliorate lipid-induced insulin resistance in muscle.


  • Published ahead of print at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org on 10 December 2008.

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    • Accepted December 2, 2008.
    • Received August 5, 2008.
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  1. Diabetes vol. 58 no. 3 550-558
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