The insulin signaling pathway is critical for the control of blood glucose levels. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has also been implicated as important in glucose homeostasis. The effect of short-term cold exposure on this pathway in BAT has not been explored. We evaluated the effect of 4 hours of cold exposure on the insulin pathway in the BAT of rats. Whole genomic microarray chips were used to examine the transcripts of the pathway in BAT of rats exposed to 4°C and 22°C for 4 hours. The 4 most significantly altered pathways following 4 hours of cold exposure were the insulin signaling pathway, protein kinase A, PI3K/AKT and ERK/MAPK signaling. The insulin signaling pathway was the most affected. In the documented 142 genes of the insulin pathway, 42 transcripts (29.6%) responded significantly to this cold exposure with the least false discovery rate (Benjamini-Hochberg Multiple Testing: -log10 (p-value) = 7.18). Twenty-seven genes (64%) were up-regulated, including the insulin receptor (Insr), insulin substrates 1 and 2 (Irs1 and Irs2). Fifteen transcripts (36%) were down-regulated. Multiple transcripts of the primary target and secondary effector targets for the insulin signaling were also up-regulated, including those for carbohydrate metabolism. Using western blotting, we demonstrated that the cold induced higher Irs2, Irs1, and Akt-p protein levels in the BAT than in the BAT of controls maintained at room temperature, and higher Akt-p protein level in the muscle. Conclusion: this study demonstrated that 4 hours of cold exposure stimulated the insulin signaling pathway in the BAT and muscle of overnight fasted rats. This raises the possibility that acute cold stimulation may have potential to improve glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)