Leucine amplifies the effects of metformin on insulin sensitivity and glycemic control in diet-induced obese mice

Lizhi Fu, Antje Bruckbauer, Fenfen Li, Qiang Cao, Xin Cui, Rui Wu, Hang Shi, Michael B Zemel, Bingzhong Xue
Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental 2015, 64 (7): 845-56

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The Sirt1/AMPK signaling pathway is a key sensor of energy status and regulates glucose and lipid metabolism. Leucine (Leu) activates Sirt1 by lowering its Km for NAD(+) and potentiates other sirtuin/AMPK-activators, resulting in improvement of insulin sensitivity. Since metformin (Met) converges on this pathway, we hypothesized that leucine would amplify its gluco-regulatory effects.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The effects of Leu (24 g/kg diet)+Met (0.05-0.5 g/kg diet) combinations were compared to standard therapeutic Met (1.5 g/kg diet; ~300 mg/kg BW) on glycemic control in high fat diet induced insulin resistant mice for 6 weeks. The effects of Leu on Met stimulation of Sirt1 and AMPK activities were further evaluated in adipocytes.

RESULTS: Sub-therapeutic levels of Met combined with Leu resulted in increases in Sirt1 activity and in tissue P-AMPK/AMPK ratio and corresponding dose-responsive improvements in fasting and post-prandial glucose, in glucose response to an insulin tolerance test and in the area under the curve in glucose tolerance tests. Changes were evident within 7 days of treatment and sustained throughout the 6-week study duration. The Leu+Met (0.25 g/kg)-combinations produced a comparable effect to a standard therapeutic Met dose, while the Leu+Met (0.5 g/kg diet) resulted in greater improvements. Since resveratrol also synergizes with leucine to augment sirtuin signaling and insulin sensitivity, we tested the addition of resveratrol to Leu-Met and found no additional benefit.

CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate that adding Leu to Met enables a dose reduction of 66% with improved efficacy and of 83% with comparable efficacy to standard metformin in diet-induced obese mice, and addition of resveratrol does not provide further benefit.

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