Chronic renin inhibition with aliskiren improves glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and skeletal muscle glucose transport activity in obese Zucker rats

Elizabeth M. Marchionne, Maggie K. Diamond-Stanic, Mujalin Prasonnarong, Erik J. Henriksen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We have demonstrated previously that overactivity of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is associated with whole body and skeletal muscle insulin resistance in obese Zucker (fa/fa) rats. Moreover, this obesity-associated insulin resistance is reduced by treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor (type 1) blockers. However, it is currently unknown whether specific inhibition of renin itself, the rate-limiting step in RAS functionality, improves insulin action in obesity-associated insulin resistance. Therefore, the present study assessed the effect of chronic, selective renin inhibition using aliskiren on glucose tolerance, whole body insulin sensitivity, and insulin action on the glucose transport system in skeletal muscle of obese Zucker rats. Obese Zucker rats were treated for 21 days with either vehicle or aliskiren (50 mg/kg body wt ip). Renin inhibition was associated with a significant lowering (10%, P < 0.05) of resting systolic blood pressure and induced reductions in fasting plasma glucose (11%) and free fatty acids (46%) and homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance (13%). Glucose tolerance (glucose area under the curve) and whole body insulin sensitivity (inverse of the glucose-insulin index) during an oral glucose tolerance test were improved by 15% and 16%, respectively, following chronic renin inhibition. Moreover, insulin-stimulated glucose transport activity in isolated soleus muscle of renin inhibitor-treated animals was increased by 36% and was associated with a 2.2-fold greater Akt Ser 473 phosphorylation. These data provide evidence that chronic selective inhibition of renin activity leads to improvements in glucose tolerance and whole body insulin sensitivity in the insulin-resistant obese Zucker rat. Importantly, chronic renin inhibition is associated with upregulation of insulin action on skeletal muscle glucose transport, and it may involve improved Akt signaling. These data support the strategy of targeting the RAS to improve both blood pressure regulation and insulin action in conditions of insulin resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R137-R142
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Glucose transport activity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Insulin signaling
  • Obesity
  • Renin-angiotensin system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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