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Trivalent chromium (Cr3+) is known to improve glucose homeostasis. Cr3+ has been shown to improve plasma membrane-based aspects of glucose transporter GLUT4 regulation and increase activity of the cellular energy sensor 5’ AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). However, the mechanism(s) by which Cr3+ improves insulin responsiveness and whether AMPK mediates this action is not known. In this study we tested if Cr3+ protected against physiological hyperinsulinemia-induced plasma membrane cholesterol accumulation, cortical filamentous actin (F-actin) loss and insulin resistance in L6 skeletal muscle myotubes. In addition, we performed mechanistic studies to test our hypothesis that AMPK mediates the effects of Cr3+ on GLUT4 and glucose transport regulation. Hyperinsulinemia-induced insulin-resistant L6 myotubes displayed excess membrane cholesterol and diminished cortical F-actin essential for effective glucose transport regulation. These membrane and cytoskeletal abnormalities were associated with defects in insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation and glucose transport. Supplementing the culture medium with pharmacologically relevant doses of Cr3+ in the picolinate form (CrPic) protected against membrane cholesterol accumulation, F-actin loss, GLUT4 dysregulation and glucose transport dysfunction. Insulin signaling was neither impaired by hyperinsulinemic conditions nor enhanced by CrPic, whereas CrPic increased AMPK signaling. Mechanistically, siRNA-mediated depletion of AMPK abolished the protective effects of CrPic against GLUT4 and glucose transport dysregulation. Together these findings suggest that the micronutrient Cr3+, via increasing AMPK activity, positively impacts skeletal muscle cell insulin sensitivity and glucose transport regulation.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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