The Journal of physiology

5'-AMP activated protein kinase α2 controls substrate metabolism during post-exercise recovery via regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4.

PMID 26359931


It is well known that exercise has a major impact on substrate metabolism for many hours after exercise. However, the regulatory mechanisms increasing lipid oxidation and facilitating glycogen resynthesis in the post-exercise period are unknown. To address this, substrate oxidation was measured after prolonged exercise and during the following 6 h post-exercise in 5´-AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) α2 and α1 knock-out (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice with free access to food. Substrate oxidation was similar during exercise at the same relative intensity between genotypes. During post-exercise recovery, a lower lipid oxidation (P < 0.05) and higher glucose oxidation were observed in AMPKα2 KO (respiratory exchange ratio (RER) = 0.84 ± 0.02) than in WT and AMPKα1 KO (average RER = 0.80 ± 0.01) without genotype differences in muscle malonyl-CoA or free-carnitine concentrations. A similar increase in muscle pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) mRNA expression in WT and AMPKα2 KO was observed following exercise, which is consistent with AMPKα2 deficiency not affecting the exercise-induced activation of the PDK4 transcriptional regulators HDAC4 and SIRT1. Interestingly, PDK4 protein content increased (63%, P < 0.001) in WT but remained unchanged in AMPKα2 KO. In accordance with the lack of increase in PDK4 protein content, lower (P < 0.01) inhibitory pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH)-E1α Ser(293) phosphorylation was observed in AMPKα2 KO muscle compared to WT. These findings indicate that AMPKα2 regulates muscle metabolism post-exercise through inhibition of the PDH complex and hence glucose oxidation, subsequently creating conditions for increased fatty acid oxidation.