Insulin resistance (IR) and hyperinsulinemia are hallmarks of the metabolic syndrome, as are central adiposity, dyslipidemia, and a predisposition to type 2 diabetes, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and certain cancers. Regular exercise and calorie restriction have long been known to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the prevalence of these disorders. The subsequent identification of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and its activation by exercise and fuel deprivation have led to studies of the effects of AMPK on both IR and metabolic syndrome–related diseases. In this review, we evaluate this body of literature, with special emphasis on the hypothesis that dysregulation of AMPK is both a pathogenic factor for these disorders in humans and a target for their prevention and therapy.
Neil B. Ruderman, David Carling, Marc Prentki, José M. Cacicedo