Chronic inflammation in muscle tissue causes insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) ligands are reported to activate the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway, including pioglitazone, which belong to the thiazolidinedione (TZD). Monascin (MS), a Monascus metabolite, has been reported to exert anti-inflammatory activity in our recent study. Therefore, the alleviating mechanism of MS on tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α; 20. ng/mL) induced insulin resistance in C2C12 cells was investigated in this study. Results showed that MS increased the uptake of 2-[. N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl) amino]-2-deoxy-d-glucose (2-NBDG) in C2C12 myotubes. This result was associated with both PPAR-γ activity and PI3K/Akt pathway caused by MS inhibited p-JNK activity and prevented PPAR-γ phosphorylation. Moreover, we found that MS may act a PPAR-γ agonist to improve insulin sensitivity, and this issue was further confirmed by PPAR-γ antagonist (GW9662). Briefly, MS as pioglitazone, stabilized PPAR-γ structure and diminished PPAR-γ phosphorylation thereby improving insulin resistance.
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