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Effects of Inhibitors of Key Enzymes of Sphingolipid Metabolism on Insulin-Induced Glucose Uptake and Glycogen Synthesis in Liver Cells of Old Rats

N. A. Babenko* and V. S. Kharchenko

Department of Physiology of Ontogenesis, Institute of Biology, Kharkov Karazin National University, pl. Svobody 4, 61077 Kharkov, Ukraine; E-mail: babenko@univer.kharkov.ua; kharchenko_vitalina@meta.ua

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received June 6, 2014; Revision received August 6, 2014
Sphingolipids play an important role in the development of insulin resistance. Ceramides are the most potent inhibitors of insulin signal transduction. Ceramides are generated in response to stress stimuli and in old age. In this work, we studied the possible contribution of different pathways of sphingolipid metabolism in age-dependent insulin resistance development in liver cells. Inhibition of key enzymes of sphingolipid synthesis (serine palmitoyl transferase, ceramide synthase) and degradation (neutral and acidic SMases) by means of specific inhibitors (myriocin, fumonisin B1, imipramine, and GW4869) was followed with the reduction of ceramide level and partly improved insulin regulation of glucose metabolism in “old” hepatocytes. Imipramine and GW4869 decreased significantly the acidic and neutral SMase activities, respectively. Treatment of “old” cells with myriocin or fumonisin B1 reduced the elevated in old age ceramide and SM synthesis. Ceramide and SM levels and glucose metabolism regulation by insulin could be improved with concerted action of all tested inhibitors of sphingolipid turnover on hepatocytes. The data demonstrate that not only newly synthesized ceramide and SM but also neutral and acidic SMase-dependent ceramide accumulation plays an important role in development of age-dependent insulin resistance.
KEY WORDS: hepatocytes, insulin resistance, aging, myriocin, fumonisin B1, imipramine, GW4869

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297915010125