R-α-lipoic acid action on cell redox status, the insulin receptor, and glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes

H. Moini, O. Tirosh, Y. C. Park, K. J. Cho, L. Packer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The insulin signaling pathway has been reported to mediate R-α-lipoic acid- (R-LA-)-stimulated glucose uptake into 3T3-L1 adipocytes and L6 myotubes. We investigated the role of the thiol antioxidant dihydrolipoic acid (DHLA) and intracellular glutathione (GSH) in R-LA-stimulated glucose transport and explored the hypothesis that R-LA could increase glucose uptake into 3T3-L1 adipocytes in an oxidant-mimetic manner. R-LA pretreatment of 3T3-L1 cells stimulated glucose transport at early time points (30 min-6 h), whereas it inhibited glucose uptake at later time points. Analysis of the oxidized and reduced content of LA in cells and medium showed that >90% of lipoic acid present was in its oxidized form. Furthermore, all oxidized forms of LA (S-, R-, and racemic LA) stimulated glucose uptake, whereas the reduced form, dihydrolipoic acid, was ineffective. Intracellular GSH levels were not changed at the early time points (before 12 h), while longer preincubation (24-48 h) of cells with R-LA significantly increased intracellular GSH. Pretreatment of adipocytes with R-LA increased intracellular peroxide levels at early time points (30 min-6 h), after which it was decreased (12-48 h). R-LA also increased tyrosine phosphorylation of immunoprecipitated insulin receptors from 3T3-L1 adipocytes. These results indicate that (i) 3T3-L1 adipocytes have a low capacity to reduce R-LA and the oxidized form of lipoic acid is responsible for stimulating glucose uptake, (ii) R-LA modulates glucose uptake by changing the intracellular redox status, and (iii) the insulin receptor is a potential cellular target for R-LA action.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)384-391
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a grant (# 011868) from the American Diabetes Association. The authors thank Dr. Nava Bashan for advice on differentiating adipocyte cells in culture.


  • Glucose transport
  • Insulin signaling
  • Intracellular redox state
  • α-lipoic acid


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