New Study Suggests Chromium Picolinate Triggers Key Enzyme to Improve Glucose Metabolism

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept 14, 2005 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A new study found that chromium picolinate may increase the amount of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) -- a key enzyme involved in metabolism -- in skeletal muscle cells, thus improving energy balance and insulin function. The research was conducted by William Cefalu, MD, lead investigator and chief of the division of nutrition and chronic diseases at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The findings were presented this week by Zhong Wang, MD, instructor in the department of nutrition and chronic diseases of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at the 41st Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Athens, Greece.

AMPK is a central enzyme that acts like a light switch to turn on and off a host of metabolic systems including the uptake of glucose in the blood, which is linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. "There has been no prior research on the mechanism of chromium and how it may effect the AMPK system." said Dr. Cefalu. "While many studies have examined how commonly prescribed medications, diet and exercise impact AMPK, this is the first to evaluate how this enzyme may be affected by a nutritional therapy. As a result of these preliminary findings, a follow up study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will be conducted to further evaluate the mechanism in humans with type 2 diabetes."

The cell study was initiated from skeletal muscle biopsies and grown to 80% confluence. Cultures were incubated in the presence of chromium picolinate (2.5,5.10.20 or 50 ng/ml) or control media only and isolated after 16 hours of treatment. The chromium picolinate treatment resulted in an increase in phosphorylation and activity of AMPK. Specifically it was observed that chromium picolinate selectively elevated AMPka2, which has been shown to positively impact glucose metabolism in skeletal and heart muscles.

Chromium is an essential mineral that is needed for insulin activity in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. In August 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed a qualified health claim for chromium picolinate that confirms that it is safe for use in people with insulin resistance and at possible risk for type 2 diabetes. The FDA's ruling regarding insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes was based on the findings of an earlier randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted by Dr. Cefalu that showed chromium picolinate helps to significantly increase insulin sensitivity in those at high risk for diabetes.

The chromium picolinate used in this study was provided by Nutrition 21, the makers of Chromax(R) chromium picolinate.

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts both clinical and basic research. It is the largest academically based nutrition research center in the world, with the greatest number of obesity researchers on faculty.

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