While a low level of ROS plays a role in cellular regulatory processes, a high level can lead to oxidative stress and cellular dysfunction. Insulin resistance (IR) is one of the dysfunctions in which oxidative stress occurs and, until now, the factors underlying the correlation between oxidative stress and IR were unclear and incomplete. This study aims to explore this correlation in skeletal muscle, a tissue relevant to insulin-mediated glucose disposal, using the hyperthyroid rat as a model of oxidative stress. The development of IR in the liver from hyperthyroid animals has been widely reported, whereas data concerning the muscle are quite controversial. Thus, we investigated whether hyperthyroidism induces IR in skeletal muscle and the role of oxidative stress in this process. Particularly, we compared the effects of hyperthyroidism on IR both in the absence and presence of vitamin E (Vit E), acting as an antioxidant. Putative correlations between ROS production, oxidative stress markers, antioxidant capacity and changes in intracellular signalling pathways related to insulin action (AKT) and cellular stress response (EIF2α; JNK; PGC1α; BIP; and NRF1) were investigated. Moreover, we assessed the effects of hyperthyroidism and Vit E on the expression levels of genes encoding for glucose transporters (Slc2a1; Slc2a4), factors involved in lipid homeostasis and insulin signalling (Pparg; Ppara, Cd36), as well as for one of the IR-related inflammatory factors, i.e., interleukin 1b (Il1b). Our results suggest that hyperthyroidism-linked oxidative stress plays a role in IR development in muscle and that an adequate antioxidant status, obtained by vitamin E supplementation, that mitigates oxidative stress, may prevent IR development.
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