Glucose availability but not changes in pancreatic hormones sensitizes hepatic AMPK activity during nutritional transition in rodents

Camille Huet, Nadia Boudaba, Bruno Guigas, Benoit Viollet, Marc Foretz, Jeffrey E. Pessin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The cellular energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a metabolic regulator that mediates adaptation to nutritional variations to maintain a proper energy balance in cells. We show here that suckling-weaning and fasting-refeeding transitions in rodents are associated with changes in AMPK activation and the cellular energy state in the liver. These nutritional transitions were characterized by a metabolic switch from lipid to glucose utilization, orchestrated by modifications in glucose levels and the glucagon/insulin ratio in the bloodstream. We therefore investigated the respective roles of glucose and pancreatic hormones on AMPK activation in mouse primary hepatocytes. We found that glucose starvation transiently activates AMPK, whereas changes in glucagon and insulin levels had no impact on AMPK. Challenge of hepatocytes with metformin-induced metabolic stress strengthened both AMPK activation and cellular energy depletion under limited-glucose conditions, whereas neither glucagon nor insulin altered AMPK activation. Although both insulin and glucagon induced AMPKα phosphorylation at its Ser485/491 residue, they did not affect its activity. Finally, the decrease in cellular ATP levels in response to an energy stress was additionally exacerbated under fasting conditions and by AMPK deficiency in hepatocytes, revealing metabolic inflexibility and emphasizing the importance of AMPK for maintaining hepatic energy charge. Our results suggest that nutritional changes (i.e. glucose availability), rather than the related hormonal changes (i.e. the glucagon/insulin ratio), sensitize AMPK activation to the energetic stress induced by the dietary transition during fasting. This effect is critical for preserving the cellular energy state in the liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5836-5849
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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