In vivo peripheral nervous system insulin signaling


Address correspondence to: Douglas Wright, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA. Tel: +(1)913-588-2713; Fax: +(1)913-588-2710; E-mail:


Alterations in peripheral nervous system (PNS) insulin support may contribute to diabetic neuropathy (DN); yet, PNS insulin signaling is not fully defined. Here, we investigated in vivo insulin signaling in the PNS and compared the insulin responsiveness to that of muscle, liver, and adipose. Non-diabetic mice were administered increasing doses of insulin to define a dose-response relationship between insulin and Akt activation in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and sciatic nerve. Resulting EC50 doses were used to characterize the PNS insulin signaling time course and make comparisons between insulin signaling in the PNS and other peripheral tissues (i.e., muscle, liver, and adipose). The results demonstrate that the PNS is responsive to insulin and that differences in insulin signaling pathway activation exist between PNS compartments. At a therapeutically relevant dose, Akt was activated in the muscle, liver, and adipose at 30 min, correlating with the changes in blood glucose levels. Interestingly, the sciatic nerve showed a similar signaling profile as insulin-sensitive tissues; however, there was not a comparable activation in the DRG or spinal cord. These results present new evidence regarding PNS insulin signaling pathways in vivo and provide a baseline for studies investigating the contribution of disrupted PNS insulin signaling to DN pathogenesis.