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OBJECTIVE: Glucocorticoid excess is characterized by increased adiposity, skeletal myopathy, and insulin resistance, but the precise molecular mechanisms are unknown. Within skeletal muscle, 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) converts cortisone (11-dehydrocorticosterone in rodents) to active cortisol (corticosterone in rodents). We aimed to determine the mechanisms underpinning glucocorticoid-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and indentify how 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors improve insulin sensitivity. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Rodent and human cell cultures, whole-tissue explants, and animal models were used to determine the impact of glucocorticoids and selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibition upon insulin signaling and action. RESULTS: Dexamethasone decreased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, decreased IRS1 mRNA and protein expression, and increased inactivating pSer(307) insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1. 11beta-HSD1 activity and expression were observed in human and rodent myotubes and muscle explants. Activity was predominantly oxo-reductase, generating active glucocorticoid. A1 (selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitor) abolished enzyme activity and blocked the increase in pSer(307) IRS1 and reduction in total IRS1 protein after treatment with 11DHC but not corticosterone. In C57Bl6/J mice, the selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitor, A2, decreased fasting blood glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity. In KK mice treated with A2, skeletal muscle pSer(307) IRS1 decreased and pThr(308) Akt/PKB increased. In addition, A2 decreased both lipogenic and lipolytic gene expression. CONCLUSIONS: Prereceptor facilitation of glucocorticoid action via 11beta-HSD1 increases pSer(307) IRS1 and may be crucial in mediating insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibition decreases pSer(307) IRS1, increases pThr(308) Akt/PKB, and decreases lipogenic and lipolytic gene expression that may represent an important mechanism underpinning their insulin-sensitizing action.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2506 - 2515


11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1, Animals, Cell Line, Cells, Cultured, Deoxyglucose, Dexamethasone, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Insulin, Insulin Resistance, Kinetics, Mice, Muscle, Skeletal, Myoblasts, Polymerase Chain Reaction, RNA, RNA, Messenger, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction