Potential role of insulin signaling on vascular smooth muscle cell migration, proliferation, and inflammation pathways

Eugenio Cersosimo, Xiaojing Xu, Nicolas Musi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


To investigate the role of insulin signaling pathways in migration, proliferation, and inflammation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), we examined the expression of active components of the phosphatidyl inositol 3 (PI-3) kinase (p-Akt) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) (p-Erk) in primary cultures of VSMCs from human coronary arteries. VSMCs were treated in a dose-response manner with insulin (0, 1, 10, and 100 nM) for 20 min, and Akt and Erk phosphorylation were measured by Western blot analysis. In separate experiments, we evaluated the effect of 200 μM palmitate, in the presence and absence of 8 μM pioglitazone, on insulin-stimulated (100 nM for 20 min) Akt and Erk phosphorylation. The phosphorylation of Akt and Erk in VSMCs exhibited a dose dependency with a three-to fourfold increase, respectively, at the highest dose (100 nM). In the presence of palmitate, insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation was completely abolished, and there was a threefold increase in p-Erk. With addition of pioglitazone, the phosphorylation of Akt by insulin remained unchanged, whereas insulin-stimulated Erk phosphorylation was reduced by pioglitazone. These data in VSMCs indicate that high palmitate decreases insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and stimulates MAPK, whereas preexposure peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-μ agonist pioglitazone preserves Akt phosphorylation and simultaneously attenuates MAPK signaling. Our results suggest that metabolic and mitogenic insulin signals have different sensitivity, are independently regulated, and may play a role in arterial smooth muscle cells migration, proliferation, and inflammation in conditions of acute hyperinsulinemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C652-C657
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Cell proliferation
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Vascular dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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