Abstract: This study examined whether Opuntia humifusa (O. humifusa), which is a member of the Cactaceae family, supplementation and acute swimming exercise affect insulin sensitivity and associations with PPAR-γ and PGC-1α protein expression in rats. Thirty-two rats were randomly divided into four groups (HS: high fat diet sedentary group, n = 8; HE: high fat diet acute exercise group, n = 8; OS: 5 % O. humifusa supplemented high fat diet sedentary group, n = 8; OE: 5 % O. humifusa supplemented high fat diet acute exercise group, n = 8). Rats in the HE and OE swam for 120 min. before being sacrificed. Our results indicated that serum glucose level, fasting insulin level and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in OS were significantly lower compared to those of the HS (p < 0.01, p < 0.05, p < 0.05). In addition, PPAR-γ protein expression in the OS and OE was significantly higher than that of the HS and HE, respectively (p < 0.05, p < 0.01). PGC-1α and GLUT-4 protein expressions in the OS were significantly higher compared to those of the HS (p < 0.05, p < 0.05). From these results, O. humifusa supplementation might play an important role for improving insulin sensitivity through elevation of PPAR-γ, PGC-1α, and GLUT-4 protein expression in rat skeletal muscle
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