Carnosic acid stimulates glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells via a PME-1/PP2A/PKB signalling axis

Christopher Lipina, Harinder S. Hundal (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    Carnosic acid (CA) is a major constituent of the labiate herbal plant Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), which has been shown to exhibit a number of beneficial health properties. In particular, recently there has been growing interest into the anti-obesity effects conveyed by CA, including its ability to counteract obesity-associated hyperglycaemia and insulin resistance. However, the mechanisms underlying its anti-diabetic responses are not fully understood. In this study, we hypothesized that CA may act to improve glycaemic status through enhancing peripheral glucose clearance. Herein, we demonstrate that CA acts to mimic the metabolic actions of insulin by directly stimulating glucose uptake in rat skeletal L6 myotubes, concomitant with increased translocation of the GLUT4 glucose transporter to the plasma membrane. Mechanistically, CA-induced glucose transport was found to be dependent on protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) but not AMPK, despite both kinases being activated by CA. Crucially, in accordance with its ability to activate PKB and stimulate glucose uptake, we show that CA conveys these effects through a pathway involving PME-1 (protein phosphatase methylesterase-1), a key negative regulator of the serine/threonine phosphatase PP2A (protein phosphatase 2A). Herein, we demonstrate that CA promotes PME-1 mediated demethylation of the PP2A catalytic subunit leading to its suppressed activity, and in doing so, alleviates the repressive action of PP2A towards PKB. Collectively, our findings provide new insight into how CA may improve glucose homeostasis through enhancing peripheral glucose clearance in tissues such as skeletal muscle through a PME-1/PP2A/PKB signalling axis, thereby mitigating pathological effects associated with the hyperglycaemic state.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2343-2349
    Number of pages6
    JournalCellular Signalling
    Issue number11
    Early online date17 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


    • Carnosic acid
    • Hyperglycemia
    • Protein kinase B
    • Skeletal muscle


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