Using mice rendered insulin resistant with high fat diets (HFD), we examined blood glucose levels and insulin resistance after i.v. delivery of an adeno-associated virus type 8 encoding murine urocortin 2 (AAV8.UCn2). A single i.v. injection of AAV8.UCn2-normalized blood glucose and glucose disposal within weeks, an effect that lasted for months. Hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps showed reduced plasma insulin, increased glucose disposal rates, and increased insulin sensitivity following UCn2 gene transfer. Mice with corticotropin-releasing hormone type 2-receptor deletion that were rendered insulin resistant by HFD showed no improvement in glucose disposal after UCn2 gene transfer, indicating that the effect requires UCn2’s cognate receptor. We also demonstrated increased glucose disposal after UCn2 gene transfer in db/db mice, a second model of insulin resistance. UCn2 gene transfer reduced fatty infiltration of the liver in both models of insulin resistance. UCn2 increases Glut4 translocation to the plasma membrane in skeletal myotubes in a manner quantitatively similar to insulin, indicating a mechanism through which UCn2 operates to increase insulin sensitivity. UCn2 gene transfer, in a dose-dependent manner, is insulin sensitizing and effective for months after a single injection. These findings suggest a potential long-term therapy for clinical type-2 diabetes.
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