Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) have been implicated in the regulation of skeletal muscle glucose uptake during contraction, and there is evidence that they do so via interaction with AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). In this study, we tested the hypothesis that ROS and NO regulate skeletal muscle glucose uptake during contraction via an AMPK-independent mechanism. Isolated extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and soleus muscles from mice that expressed a muscle-specific kinase dead AMPKalpha2 isoform (AMPK-KD) and wild-type litter mates (WT) were stimulated to contract, and glucose uptake was measured in the presence or absence of the antioxidant N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) or the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor N(G)-monomethyl-l-arginine (l-NMMA). Contraction increased AMPKalpha2 activity in WT but not AMPK-KD EDL muscles. However, contraction increased glucose uptake in the EDL and soleus muscles of AMPK-KD and WT mice to a similar extent. In EDL muscles, NAC and l-NMMA prevented contraction-stimulated increases in oxidant levels (dichloroflourescein fluorescence) and NOS activity, respectively, and attenuated contraction-stimulated glucose uptake in both genotypes to a similar extent. In soleus muscles of AMPK-KD and WT mice, NAC prevented contraction-stimulated glucose uptake and l-NMMA had no effect. This is likely attributed to the relative lack of neuronal NOS in the soleus muscles compared with EDL muscles. Contraction increased AMPKalpha Thr(172) phosphorylation in EDL and soleus muscles of WT but not AMPK-KD mice, and this was not affected by NAC or l-NMMA treatment. In conclusion, ROS and NO are involved in regulating skeletal muscle glucose uptake during contraction via an AMPK-independent mechanism.
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