Over the past decade, an epidemic of obesity has developed throughout the Western World. In recent years, significant interest has focused on the role of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes and is such the focus of this review. Specifically, the potential role of AMPK in skeletal muscle metabolism as it relates to the insulin sensitizing effects of exercise and the hormones, leptin, adiponectin, ciliary neurotrophic factor and interleukin-6 are discussed. We caution that despite the convincing associations between the activation of AMPK signalling and the restoration of insulin sensitivity, future studies in genetic models of AMPK deficiency or constitutive activation within skeletal muscle are needed to evaluate the quantitative role of AMPK and to validate whether strategies designed to activate skeletal muscle AMPK may be important for regulating whole-body insulin sensitivity.
Keywords: AMPK, obesity, fatty acid oxidation, glucose uptake, adiponectin, leptin, ciliary neurotrophic factor, metformin, exercise
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