University Of Tasmania
PLOS ONE 2018.pdf (3.17 MB)

Zinc stimulates glucose oxidation and glycemic control by modulating the insulin signaling pathway in human and mouse skeletal muscle cell lines

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 15:14 authored by Norouzi, S, John Adulcikas, Sukhwinder SohalSukhwinder Sohal, Stephen MyersStephen Myers
Zinc is a metal ion that is an essential cell signaling molecule. Highlighting this, zinc is an insulin mimetic, activating cellular pathways that regulate cellular homeostasis and physiological responses. Previous studies have linked dysfunctional zinc signaling with several disease states including cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The present study evaluated the insulin-like effects of zinc on cell signaling molecules including tyrosine, PRSA40, Akt, ERK1/2, SHP-2, GSK-3β and p38, and glucose oxidation in human and mouse skeletal muscle cells. Insulin and zinc independently led to the phosphorylation of these proteins over a 60-minute time course in both mouse and human skeletal muscle cells. Similarly, utilizing a protein array we identified that zinc could active the phosphorylation of p38, ERK1/2 and GSK-3B in human and ERK1/2 and GSK-3B in mouse skeletal muscle cells. Glucose oxidation assays were performed on skeletal muscle cells treated with insulin, zinc, or a combination of both and resulted in a significant induction of glucose consumption in mouse (p < 0.01) and human (p < 0.05) skeletal muscle cells when treated with zinc alone. Insulin, as expected, increased glucose oxidation in mouse (p < 0.001) and human (p < 0.001) skeletal muscle cells, however the combination of zinc and insulin did not augment glucose consumption in these cells. Zinc acts as an insulin mimetic, activating key molecules implicated in cell signaling to maintain glucose homeostasis in mouse and human skeletal muscle cells. Zinc is an important metal ion implicated in several biological processes. The role of zinc as an insulin memetic in activating key signaling molecules involved in glucose homeostasis could provide opportunities to utilize this ion therapeutically in treating disorders associated with dysfunctional zinc signaling.


Clifford Craig Foundation


Publication title

PLoS One



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School of Health Sciences


Public Library of Science

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

© 2018 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified

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