Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) is an important bioactive component of Astragalus membranaceus Bunge (Leguminosae) that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating diabetes.
To study the mechanisms by which APS ameliorates diabetes, we examined whether treatment with APS improves insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant mice and whether this is associated with an improvement of dysregulated protein kinase B and glucose transporter 4 expressions in skeletal muscle.
APS (700 mg kg(-1)day(-1)) or vehicle was administered to 12-week-old diabetic KKAy and nondiabetic C57BL/6J mice for 8 weeks. Changes in body weight, blood glucose level, insulin resistance index, and oral glucose tolerance were routinely evaluated. The expressions of protein kinase B and glucose transporter 4 in skeletal muscle tissues were determined with Western blot.
KKAy mice developed persistent hyperglycemia, impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Insulin-stimulated protein kinase B phosphorylation and glucose transporter 4 translocation were significantly decreased in KKAy compared to age-matched C57BL/6J mice. APS treatment ameliorated hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. Although the content of protein kinase B and glucose transporter 4 in KKAy skeletal muscle were not affected by APS, insulin-induced protein kinase B Ser-473 phosphorylation and glucose transporter 4 translocation in skeletal muscle were partially restored by APS treatment. In contrast, APS did not have any effect on C57BL/6J mice.
These results indicate that APS can regulate part of the insulin signaling in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle, and that APS could be a potential insulin sensitizer for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.