Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Lipids in Health and Disease and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research

Phytanic acid stimulates glucose uptake in a model of skeletal muscles, the primary porcine myotubes

Brita N Che1, Niels Oksbjerg1, Lars I Hellgren2, Jacob H Nielsen3 and Jette F Young1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Tjele, 8830, Denmark

2 Department of System Biology, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs, Lyngby, Denmark

3 Department of Food Science, Copenhagen University, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark

For all author emails, please log on.

Lipids in Health and Disease 2013, 12:14  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-12-14

Published: 11 February 2013



Phytanic acid (PA) is a chlorophyll metabolite with potentials in regulating glucose metabolism, as it is a natural ligand of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) that is known to regulate hepatic glucose homeostasis. This study aimed to establish primary porcine myotubes as a model for measuring glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis, and to examine the impact of physiological amounts of PA on glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis either alone or in combination with insulin.


Porcine satellite cells were cultured into differentiated myotubes and tritiated 2-deoxyglucose (2-DOG) was used to measure glucose uptake, in relation to PA and 2-DOG exposure times and also in relation to PA and insulin concentrations. The MIXED procedure model of SAS was used for statistical analysis of data.


PA increased glucose uptake by approximately 35%, and the presence of insulin further increased the uptake, but this further increase in uptake was non- additive and less pronounced at high insulin concentrations. There was no effect of PA alone on glycogen synthesis, while the insulin stimulation of glycogen was increased by 20% in the presence of PA. PA neither stimulated glucose uptake nor glycogen synthesis in insulin-resistant myotubes generated by excess glucose exposure.


Primary porcine myotubes were established as a model of skeletal muscles for measuring glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis, and we showed that PA can play a role in stimulating glucose uptake at no or inadequate insulin concentrations.

Phytanic acid; Palmitic acid; Insulin; Glucose uptake; Glycogen synthesis; Viability; Primary porcine myotubes; Excess glucose; Free fatty acids