The serine/threonine kinase Akt (protein kinase B [PKB] or related to A and C protein kinase [RAC] has recently been implicated to play a role in the signaling pathway to glucose transport. However, little is known concerning the regulation of Akt activity in insulinsensitive tissues such as skeletal muscle. To explore the role of hyperglycemia on Akt kinase activity in skeletal muscle, normal Wistar rats or Goto-Kakizaki (GK) diabetic rats were treated with phlorizin. Phlorizin treatment normalized fasting blood glucose and significantly improved glucose tolerance (P < 0.001) in GK rats, whereas in Wistar rats, the compound had no effect on glucose homeostasis. In soleus muscle from GK rats, maximal insulin-stimulated (120 nmol/l) Akt kinase activity was reduced by 68% (P < 0.01) and glucose transport was decreased by 39% (P < 0.05), compared with Wistar rats. Importantly, the defects at the level of Akt kinase and glucose transport were completely restored by phlorizin treatment. There was no significant difference in Akt kinase protein expression among the three groups. At a submaximal insulin concentration (2.4 nmol/l), activity of Akt kinase and glucose transport were unaltered. In conclusion, improved glucose tolerance in diabetic GK rats by phlorizin treatment fully restored insulin-stimulated activity of Akt kinase and glucose transport. Thus, hyperglycemia may directly contribute to the development of muscle insulin resistance through alterations in insulin action on Akt kinase and glucose transport.

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