In this study, the effects of the extract and four tanshinone compounds from the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge (Labiatae) on the tyrosine phosphorylation of the insulin receptor (IR) β-subunit and the downstream signaling were examined in Chinese-hamster ovary cells expressing human insulin receptors (CHO/IR cells) as well as in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. In addition the translocation of the glucose transporter 4 was investigated in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Total extract of Danshen (1-10 μg/ml) and the four tanshinones (10 μM) did not show any activity, but the total extract and the tanshinone I, IIA and 15, 16-dihydrotanshinone I except cryptotanshinone enhanced the activity of insulin (1 nM) on the tyrosine phosphorylation of the IR as well as the activation of the downstream kinases Akt, ERK1/2, and GSK3β. In the adipocytes the same IR-downstream signaling and the translocation of glucose transporter 4 were demonstrated by the three tanshinones in the presence of insulin. These insulin-sensitizing activities of tanshinones may be useful for developing a new class of specific IR activators as anti-diabetic agents.
- Glucose transporter
- Insulin receptor tyrosine phosphorylation
- Insulin signal transduction
- Salvia miltiorrhiza