The effects of englitazone in male Wistar rats fed a high-fat diet (59% of calories as fat) were compared with control rats fed a high-carbohydrate diet (69% of calories as carbohydrate) (5–15 animals per group). Insulin-stimulated (17 nmol/l) 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) uptake was inhibited 31% in adipocytes isolated from rats on the high-fat diet for 3 weeks, but englitazone (50 mg/kg for the last 7 days) normalized the response. There was a selective decrease in GLUT4 (54 ± 5% of high-carbohydrate) in epididymal fat from rats on the high-fat diet for 3 weeks, but englitazone treatment did not reverse the defect in GLUT4 (43 ± 8% of high-carbohydrate) or increase GLUT1 (81 ± 12% of high-carbohydrate). Englitazone normalized oral glucose (1 g/kg body wt) intolerance and excessive (210% of high-carbohydrate) liver glycogen deposition (from [14C]glucose) caused by the high-fat diet. The high-fat diet tended to decrease insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and phosphatidylinositol-3′-kinase (PI-3-kinase) expression in epididymal fat (26% decrease; P < 0.1). Englitazone did not reverse this decrease in IRS-1 and PI-3-kinase levels in fat from high-fat-fed rats (there was a further 25–30% decrease, P < 0.05), nor did it increase PI-3-kinase activity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes under conditions (48 h incubation) where it stimulated 2-DG uptake sixfold or enhanced insulin-stimulated 2-DG uptake. In summary, englitazone prevented the insulin resistance associated with a high-fat diet, but the mechanism of action does not involve changes in fat or muscle glucose transporter content and may not involve activation of the insulin signaling pathway via PI-3-kinase.

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