Glutaredoxins concomitant with optimal ROS activate AMPK through S-glutathionylation to improve glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetes

Kelei Dong, Meiling Wu, Xiaomin Liu, Yanjie Huang, Dongyang Zhang, Yiting Wang, Liang Jun Yan, Dongyun Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


AMPK dysregulation contributes to the onset and development of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). AMPK is known to be activated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant interference. However the mechanism by which redox state mediates such contradictory result remains largely unknown. Here we used streptozotocin-high fat diet (STZ-HFD) induced-type 2 diabetic rats and cells lines (L02 and HEK 293) to explore the mechanism of redox-mediated AMPK activation. We show glutaredoxins (Grxs) concomitant with optimal ROS act as an essential mediator for AMPK activation. ROS level results in different mechanisms for AMPK activation. Under low ROS microenvironment, Grxs-mediated S-glutathionylation on AMPK-α catalytic subunit activates AMPK to improve glucose transportation and degradation while inhibiting glycogen synthesis and keeping redox balance. While, under high ROS microenvironment, AMPK is activated by an AMP-dependent mechanism, however sustained high level ROS also causes loss of AMPK protein. This finding provides evidence for a new approach to diabetes treatment by individual doses of ROS or antioxidant calibrated against the actual redox level in vivo. Moreover, the novel function of Grxs in promoting glucose metabolism may provide new target for T2DM treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-347
Number of pages14
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016



  • AMPK
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Glutaredoxins
  • Glutathionylation
  • ROS
  • Type 2 diabetes

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