Oleuropein improves insulin resistance in skeletal muscle by promoting the translocation of GLUT4.
As the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet on human health are well established, the phenolic compounds in olive oil have been gaining interest. Oleuropein, a major phenolic compound in olives, is known to reduce the blood glucose levels in alloxan-induced diabetic rats and rabbits, however, its effect on type 2 diabetes caused by obesity is not clear. The purpose of this study is clarifying the effect of oleuropein on the glucose tolerance in skeletal muscle under the condition of lipotoxicity caused by type 2 diabetes. Oleuropein enhanced glucose uptake in C2C12 cells without insulin. Translocation of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) into the cell membrane was promoted by activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) but not protein kinase B (Akt). Physiological concentration of oleuropein (10 µM) was sufficient to express beneficial effects on C2C12 cells. Oleuropein prevented palmitic acid-induced myocellular insulin resistance. Furthermore, in gastrocnemius muscles of mice fed a high fat diet, oleuropein also induced the GLUT4 localization into cell membrane. These results suggest the possibility of oleuropein to be effective for type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance in skeletal muscles.