Systemic pan-AMPK activator MK-8722 improves glucose homeostasis but induces cardiac hypertrophy

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Science  04 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6350, pp. 507-511
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah5582

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Hitting a dozen enzymes with one drug

The adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) controls cellular energy status. AMPK is activated when energy levels fall. This stimulates adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-generating pathways that promote glucose uptake and inhibits ATP-consuming pathways associated with glucose synthesis. In principle, these effects would be beneficial in metabolic diseases, including diabetes. Pharmacological activation of AMPK has been challenging, however, because in mammals, the enzyme exists as 12 distinct complexes. Myers et al. describe an orally available compound (MK-8722) that activates all 12 complexes (see the Perspective by Hardie). In animal models, MK-8722 ameliorated diabetes, but it also caused enlargement of the heart. MK-8722 may be a useful tool compound for laboratory research on AMPK function.

Science, this issue p. 507; see also p. 455


5′-Adenosine monophosphate–activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a master regulator of energy homeostasis in eukaryotes. Despite three decades of investigation, the biological roles of AMPK and its potential as a drug target remain incompletely understood, largely because of a lack of optimized pharmacological tools. We developed MK-8722, a potent, direct, allosteric activator of all 12 mammalian AMPK complexes. In rodents and rhesus monkeys, MK-8722–mediated AMPK activation in skeletal muscle induced robust, durable, insulin-independent glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis, with resultant improvements in glycemia and no evidence of hypoglycemia. These effects translated across species, including diabetic rhesus monkeys, but manifested with concomitant cardiac hypertrophy and increased cardiac glycogen without apparent functional sequelae.

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