Adiponectin is an adipokine that regulates metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity. Mechanisms behind this insulin sensitizing effect have been investigated in rodents, but little is known in humans especially in skeletal muscle. Women have higher serum concentrations of adiponectin than men and are generally more insulin sensitive in skeletal muscle than men. We show here that large differences exist between men and women with regard to apparent adiponectin regulation of insulin stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Serum adiponectin was significantly associated with leg glucose uptake in healthy, young, lean men, but the association was absent in women. In addition, serum adiponectin was significantly associated with AMPK phosphorylation in skeletal muscles of men but not in women. Serum adiponectin was also significantly negatively associated with skeletal muscle ceramide content in men only and, interestingly, ceramide content was negatively associated with adiponectin receptor 1 (AdipoR1) expression in skeletal muscles of men. Women had lower AdipoR1 receptor expression in skeletal muscle and lower percentage of glycolytic adiponectin sensitive type II muscle fibers than men. These associations suggest that the insulin-sensitizing effect of adiponectin on human male skeletal muscles may be mediated via AdipoR1 to activation of AMPK leading to lowering of ceramide content. The lower skeletal muscle AdipoR1 protein expression and lower expression of adiponectin sensitive type II muscle fibers in women than in men, may explain the apparent lesser sensitivity to adiponectin in women.
Journal of Applied Physiology, 2013, Vol 114, Issue 5, p. 592-601