Retinol binding protein 4 (RBP4) is an adipokine secreted by adipose tissue and liver and contributes to insulin resistance (IR) in animals. Although several human studies indicated that RBP4 is positively correlated with blood pressure and is elevated in untreated hypertensive subjects, the role of RBP4 in IR of hypertensive animals still remains obscure. In this study, spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) were used to investigate the relationship between RBP4 levels and IR. We found that at 7 weeks old, SHR had significantly increased plasma RBP4 levels and RBP4 expression in liver and epididymal adipose tissue accompanied by worsening of IR as compared with Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) control rats. Administration of fenretinide in SHR to increase urinary RBP4 excretion significantly decreased plasma RBP4 levels and improved IR. Moreover, treatment with valsartan markedly reduced blood pressure, circulating RBP4 and adiponectin levels, and IR in SHR. Valsartan also reversed the increase of hepatic gluconeogenic enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) and the decrease of type 4 glucose transporter (GLUT4) in adipose tissue. In conclusion, these results suggest that RBP4 contributes, at least partly, to the pathogenesis of IR in SHR. Furthermore, the decrease of blood pressure caused by valsartan not only decreased RBP4 levels, but also improved IR in SHR.
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