Mol Metab 2018 11 11;17:61-70. Epub 2018 Aug 11.
Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address:
Objective: AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) is recognized as an important nutrient sensor contributing to regulation of cellular, tissue, and systemic metabolism. We aimed to identify specific amino acids which could modulate AMPK and determine effects on cellular and systemic metabolism.
Methods: We performed an unbiased amino acid screen to identify activators of AMPK. Detailed analysis of cellular signaling and metabolism was performed in cultured hepatoma cells, and in vivo glucose metabolism and metabolomic patterns were assessed in both chow-fed mice and mice made obese by high-fat diet feeding.
Results: Alanine acutely activates AMP kinase in both cultured hepatic cells and in liver from mice treated in vivo with Ala. Oral alanine administration improves systemic glucose tolerance in both chow and high fat diet fed mice, with reduced efficacy of Ala in mice with reduced AMPK activity. Our data indicate that Ala activation of AMPK is mediated by intracellular Ala metabolism, which reduces TCA cycle metabolites, increases AMP/ATP ratio, and activates NH generation.
Conclusions: Ala may serve as a distinct amino acid energy sensor, providing a positive signal to activate the beneficial AMPK signaling pathway.