AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an energy sensor that regulates cellular metabolism. Activation of AMPK in skeletal muscles, the liver, and adipose tissues results in a favorable metabolic milieu for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes, i.e., decreased levels of circulating glucose, plasma lipids, and ectopic fat accumulation and enhanced insulin sensitivity. Osthole was extracted from a Chinese herbal medicine, and we found that it had glucose lowering activity in our previous study. However, the detailed glucose lowering mechanisms of osthole are still unclear. In this study, we used skeletal muscle cells to examine the underlying molecular mechanisms of osthole's glucose lowering activity. A Western blot analysis revealed that osthole significantly induced phosphorylation of AMPK and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). Next, we found that osthole significantly increased the level of translocation of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to plasma membranes and glucose uptake in a dose-dependent manner. Osthole-induced glucose uptake was reversed by treatment with Compound C, an AMPK inhibitor, suggesting that osthole-induced glucose uptake was mediated in an AMPK-dependent manner. The increase in the AMP:ATP ratio was involved in osthole's activation of AMPK. Finally, we found that osthole counteracted hyperglycemia in mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. These results suggest that the increase in the AMP:ATP ratio by osthole triggered activation of the AMPK signaling pathway and led to increases in plasma membrane GLUT4 content and glucose uptake level. Therefore, osthole might have potential as an antidiabetic agent for treating diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12874-12881
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 28 2011


  • AMPK
  • GLUT4
  • Osthole
  • skeletal muscle cells
  • streptozotocin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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