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Keywords:

  • chromium;
  • diabetes;
  • glucose;
  • liver;
  • metabolism

Abstract

Chromium has been recognized as an essential trace element that plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in its action are not clear. This study was undertaken to understand the mechanism of chromium action in experimental diabetes. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic animals were administered chromium as chromium picolinate (CrP) at a daily dose of 1 mg/kg body weight for a period of 4 weeks. It was observed that chromium complexed with picolinate was effective in lowering plasma glucose levels as well as was able to alleviate polyphagia, polydipsia, and weight loss in diabetic animals. Administration of chromium was also found to normalize glycogen content in liver of diabetic animals to near control levels. The reduction in plasma glucose levels by chromium was accompanied by increase in activity of glycolytic enzymes (e.g., glucokinase, phosphofructokinase, and pyruvate kinase) and by suppression in activity of gluconeogenic enzymes (e.g., glucose-6-phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase) in liver. Hepatic glucose uptake was found to be increased by chromium supplementation as demonstrated by decrease in Km and increase in Vmax values in diabetic animals. Chromium levels were lower in the liver of diabetic rats when compared with that of control rats. A negative correlation was observed between plasma glucose and chromium concentration in patients with diabetes. The data suggests that chromium supplementation as CrP is beneficial in correcting hyperglycemia, implying that the modulation of the glucose metabolism by chromium may be therapeutically beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. © 2012 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.