Urocortin 2 modulates glucose utilization and insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle

Alon Chen, Bhawanjit Brar, Cheol Soo Choi, David Rousso, Joan Vaughan, Yael Kuperman, Shee Ne Kim, Cindy Donaldson, Sean M Smith, Pauline Jamieson, Chien Li, Tim R Nagy, Gerald I Shulman, Kuo-Fen Lee, Wylie Vale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Skeletal muscle is the principal tissue responsible for insulin-stimulated glucose disposal and is a major site of peripheral insulin resistance. Urocortin 2 (Ucn 2), a member of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family, and its cognate type 2 CRF receptor (CRFR2) are highly expressed in skeletal muscle. To determine the physiological role of Ucn 2, we generated mice that are deficient in this peptide. Using glucose-tolerance tests (GTTs), insulin-tolerance tests (ITTs), and hyperinsulinemic euglycemic glucose clamp studies, we demonstrated that mice lacking Ucn 2 exhibited increased insulin sensitivity and were protected against fat-induced insulin resistance. Administration of synthetic Ucn 2 to mutant mice before the GTTs and ITTs restored blood glucose to WT levels. Administration of a CRFR2 selective antagonist to WT mice resulted in a GTT profile that mirrored that of Ucn 2-null mice. Body composition measurements of Ucn 2-null mice on a high-fat diet demonstrated decreases in fat and increases in lean tissue compared with WT mice. We propose that null mutant mice display increased glucose uptake in skeletal muscle through the removal of Ucn 2-mediated inhibition of insulin signaling. In keeping with these data, Ucn 2 inhibited insulin-induced Akt and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in cultured skeletal muscle cells and C2C12 myotubes. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that Ucn 2 functions as a local negative regulator of glucose uptake in skeletal muscle and encourage exploration of the possibility that suppression of the Ucn 2/CRFR2 pathway may provide benefits in insulin-resistant states such as type 2 diabetes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16580-5
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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