AMPK and the Need to Breathe and Feed: What's the Matter with Oxygen?

A. Mark Evans (Lead / Corresponding author), D. Grahame Hardie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


We live and to do so we must breathe and eat, so are we a combination of what we eat and breathe? Here, we will consider this question, and the role in this respect of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Emerging evidence suggests that AMPK facilitates central and peripheral reflexes that coordinate breathing and oxygen supply, and contributes to the central regulation of feeding and food choice. We propose, therefore, that oxygen supply to the body is aligned with not only the quantity we eat, but also nutrient-based diet selection, and that the cell-specific expression pattern of AMPK subunit isoforms is critical to appropriate system alignment in this respect. Currently available information on how oxygen supply may be aligned with feeding and food choice, or vice versa, through our motivation to breathe and select particular nutrients is sparse, fragmented and lacks any integrated understanding. By addressing this, we aim to provide the foundations for a clinical perspective that reveals untapped potential, by highlighting how aberrant cell-specific changes in the expression of AMPK subunit isoforms could give rise, in part, to known associations between metabolic disease, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, sleep-disordered breathing, pulmonary hypertension and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3518
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


  • AMPK
  • COVID-19
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • altitude
  • feeding
  • hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction
  • hypoxic ventilatory response
  • oxygen
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • seep-disordered breathing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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