Relaxin Treatment Reverses Insulin Resistance in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet

  1. David H. Wasserman1,2
  1. 1Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee
  2. 2Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee
  3. 3Department of Surgery Division of Vascular Surgery, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee
  1. Corresponding author: Jeffrey S. Bonner, jeffrey.s.bonner{at}


The endogenous hormone relaxin increases vascular reactivity and angiogenesis. We demonstrate that acute relaxin infusion in lean C57BL/6J mice enhances skeletal muscle perfusion and augments muscle glucose uptake during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. However, an acute effect was absent in mice fed a high-fat (HF) diet for 13 weeks. In contrast, mice fed an HF diet for 13 weeks and continuously treated with relaxin for the final 3 weeks of the diet exhibited decreased fasting blood glucose. Insulin-stimulated whole-body glucose disappearance and percent suppression of hepatic glucose production are corrected by chronic relaxin. The increase in peripheral glucose utilization is a result of augmented in vivo skeletal muscle glucose uptake. Relaxin intervention improves endothelial-dependent vascular reactivity and induces a two-fold proliferation in skeletal muscle capillarity. The metabolic effects of the treatment are not attributed to changes in myocellular insulin signaling. Relaxin intervention reverses the accumulation of collagen III in the liver and collagen III and collagen IV in the heart; this is induced by HF feeding. These studies show the potential of relaxin in the treatment of diet-induced insulin resistance and vascular dysfunction. Relaxin provides a novel therapeutic approach targeting the extramyocellular barriers to insulin action, which are critical to the pathogenesis of insulin resistance.


  • Received January 8, 2013.
  • Accepted May 24, 2013.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See for details.

| Table of Contents