Insulin resistance is commonly associated with hypertension, a condition that causes vascular disease in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms linking hypertension and insulin resistance are poorly understood. To determine whether respiratory uncoupling can prevent insulin resistance-related hypertension, we crossed transgenic mice expressing uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in skeletal muscle with lethal yellow (Ay/a) mice, genetically obese animals known to have elevated blood pressure. Despite increased food intake, UCP-Ay/a mice weighed less than their Ay/a littermates. The metabolic rate was higher in UCP- Ay/a mice than in Ay/a mice and did not impair their ability to alter oxygen consumption in response to temperature changes, an adaptation involving sympathetic nervous system activity. Compared with their nontransgenic littermates, UCP-Ay/a mice had lower fasting insulin, glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels and were more insulin sensitive. Blood pressure, serum leptin, and urinary catecholamine levels were also lower in uncoupled mice. Independent of sympathetic nervous system activity, low-dose peripheral leptin infusion increased blood pressure in UCP-Ay/a mice but not in their AY/a littermates. These data indicate that skeletal muscle respiratory uncoupling reverses insulin resistance and lowers blood pressure in genetic obesity without affecting thermoregulation. The data also suggest that uncoupling could decrease the risk of atherosclerosis in type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-968
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Energy metabolism
  • Hypertension
  • Insulin resistance
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Uncoupling proteins


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