The C5aR1 complement receptor: A novel immunomodulator of insulin action in skeletal muscle

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The complement system constitutes an integral component of the innate immune system and plays a critical role in adaptive immunity. Activation of this system engenders the production of complement peptide fragments, including C5a, which engage G-protein coupled receptors predominantly expressed in immune-associated cells, such as neutrophils, initiating pro-inflammatory responses. Intriguingly, our investigation has unveiled the presence of C5a receptor 1 (C5aR1) expression within skeletal muscle, a key metabolic tissue and primary target of insulin. Herein, we demonstrate that C5aR1 activation by C5a in differentiated human skeletal muscle cells elicits acute suppression of insulin signalling. This suppression manifests as impaired insulin-dependent association between IRS1 and the p85 subunit of PI3-kinase, a 50% reduction in Akt phosphorylation, and a 60% decline in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. This impairment in insulin signalling is associated with a three-fold elevation in intramyocellular diacylglycerol (DAG) levels and a two-fold increase in cytosolic calcium content, which promote PKC-mediated IRS1 inhibition via enhanced phosphorylation at IRS1 Ser1101. Significantly, our findings demonstrate that structurally diverse C5aR1 antagonists, along with genetic deletion or stable silencing of C5aR1 by 80% using short-hairpin RNA, effectively attenuate repression of insulin signalling by C5a in LHCN-M2 human skeletal myotubes. These results underscore the potential of heightened C5aR1 activation, characteristic of obesity and chronic inflammatory conditions, to detrimentally impact insulin function within skeletal muscle cells. Additionally, the study suggests that agents targeting the C5a-C5aR axis, originally devised for mitigating complement-dependent inflammatory conditions, may offer therapeutic avenues to ameliorate immune-driven insulin resistance in key peripheral metabolic tissues, including skeletal muscle.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110944
Number of pages35
JournalCellular Signalling
Early online date26 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • C5aR1
  • Akt
  • IRS1
  • DAG
  • PKC
  • Glucose uptake


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