BMC complementary and alternative medicine

L-Citrulline increases hepatic sensitivity to insulin by reducing the phosphorylation of serine 1101 in insulin receptor substrate-1.

PMID 26084330


Insulin resistance is characterized by deficient responses to insulin in its target tissues. In the present study, we examined the effects of L-Citrulline (L-Cit) on insulin sensitivity and signaling cascades in rat hepatoma H4IIE cells and SHRSP.Z-Leprfa/IzmDmcr rats. H4IIE cells were pretreated in the presence or absence of 250 μM L-Cit in serum-free medium and then incubated in the presence or absence of 0.1 nM insulin. Rats were allocated into 2 groups; a control group (not treated) and L-Cit group (2 g/kg/day, L-Cit) and treated for 8 weeks. L-Cit enhanced the insulin-induced phosphorylation of Akt in H4IIE cells. Moreover, the inhibited expression of Dex/cAMP-induced PEPCK mRNA by insulin was enhanced by the L-Cit treatment. The phosphorylation of tyrosine, which is upstream of Akt, in insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) was increased by the L-Cit treatment. The L-Cit-induced enhancement in insulin signaling was not related to the binding affinity of insulin to the insulin receptor or to the expression of the insulin receptor, but to a decrease in the phosphorylation of serine 1101 in IRS-1. These results were also confirmed in animal experiments. In the livers of L-Cit-treated rats, PI3K/Akt signaling was improved by decreases in the phosphorylation of serine 1101. We herein demonstrated for the first time the beneficial effects of L-Cit on improved insulin resistance associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity. These results may have clinical applications for insulin resistance and the treatment of type-2 diabetes.