Nitric Oxide Directly Promotes Vascular Endothelial Insulin Transport

  1. Eugene J. Barrett
  1. Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia
  1. Corresponding author: Hong Wang, hw8t{at}


Insulin resistance strongly associates with decreased nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability and endothelial dysfunction. In the vasculature, NO mediates multiple processes that affect insulin delivery, including dilating both resistance and terminal arterioles in skeletal muscle in vivo. However, whether NO directly regulates vascular endothelial cell (EC) insulin uptake and its transendothelial transport (TET) is unknown. We report in this article that l-NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME) pretreatment blocked, whereas l-arginine and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) each enhanced, EC uptake of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled insulin. SNP also partly or fully reversed the inhibition of EC insulin uptake caused by l-NAME, wortmannin, the Src inhibitor PP1, and tumor necrosis factor-α. In addition, SNP promoted [125I]TyrA14insulin TET by ∼40%. Treatment with insulin with and without SNP did not affect EC cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) levels, and the cGMP analog 8-bromo-cGMP did not affect FITC-insulin uptake. In contrast, treatment with insulin and SNP significantly increased EC protein S-nitrosylation, the colocalization of S-nitrosothiol (S-NO) and protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B), and Akt phosphorylation at Ser473 and inhibited PTP1B activity. Moreover, a high-fat diet significantly inhibited EC insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and FITC-insulin uptake that was partially reversed by SNP in rats. Finally, inhibition of S-nitrosylation by knockdown of thioredoxin-interacting protein completely eliminated SNP-enhanced FITC-insulin uptake. We conclude that NO directly promotes EC insulin transport by enhancing protein S-nitrosylation. NO also inhibits PTP1B activity, thereby enhancing insulin signaling.


  • Received April 22, 2013.
  • Accepted July 9, 2013.

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