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Jessica A Deis, Hong Guo, Yingjie Wu, Chengyu Liu, David A Bernlohr and Xiaoli Chen

Lipocalin-2 (LCN2) has been previously characterized as an adipokine regulating thermogenic activation of brown adipose tissue and retinoic acid (RA)-induced thermogenesis in mice. The objective of this study was to explore the role and mechanism for LCN2 in the recruitment and retinoic acid-induced activation of brown-like or ‘beige’ adipocytes. We found LCN2 deficiency reduces key markers of thermogenesis including uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) in inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) and inguinal adipocytes derived from Lcn2 −/− mice. Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes have attenuated insulin-induced upregulation of thermogenic gene expression and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK) signaling pathway activation. This is accompanied by a lower basal and maximal oxidative capacity in Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes, indicating mitochondrial dysfunction. Recombinant Lcn2 was able to restore insulin-induced p38MAPK phosphorylation in both WT and Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes. Rosiglitazone treatment during differentiation of Lcn2 −/− adipocytes is able to recruit beige adipocytes at a normal level, however, further activation of beige adipocytes by insulin and RA is impaired in the absence of LCN2. Further, the synergistic effect of insulin and RA on UCP1 and PGC-1α expression is markedly reduced in Lcn2 −/− inguinal adipocytes. Most intriguingly, LCN2 and the retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RAR-α) are concurrently translocated to the plasma membrane of adipocytes in response to insulin, and this insulin-induced RAR-α translocation is absent in adipocytes deficient in LCN2. Our data suggest a novel LCN2-mediated pathway by which RA and insulin synergistically regulates activation of beige adipocytes via a non-genomic pathway of RA action.

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Jing Cen, Ernest Sargsyan, Anders Forslund and Peter Bergsten

Elevated levels of palmitate accentuate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) after short-term and cause beta-cell dysfunction after prolonged exposure. We investigated whether metformin, the first-line oral drug for treatment of T2DM, has beneficial effects on FFA-treated human islets and the potential mechanisms behind the effects. Insulin secretion, oxygen consumption rate (OCR), AMPK activation, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and apoptosis were examined in isolated human islets after exposure to elevated levels of palmitate in the absence or presence of metformin. Palmitate exposure doubled GSIS after 2 days but halved after 7 days compared with control. Inclusion of metformin during palmitate exposure normalized insulin secretion both after 2 and 7 days. After 2-day exposure to palmitate, OCR and the marker of the adaptive arm of ER stress response (sorcin) were significantly raised, whereas AMPK phosphorylation, markers of pro-apoptotic arm of ER stress response (p-EIF2α and CHOP) and apoptosis (cleaved caspase 3) were not affected. Presence of metformin during 2-day palmitate exposure normalized OCR and sorcin levels. After 7-day exposure to palmitate, OCR and sorcin were not significantly different from control level, p-AMPK was reduced and p-EIF2α, CHOP and cleaved caspase 3 were strongly upregulated. Presence of metformin during 7-day culture with palmitate normalized the level of p-AMPK, p-EIF2α, CHOP and cleaved caspase 3 but significantly increased the level of sorcin. Our study demonstrates that metformin prevents early insulin hypersecretion and later decrease in insulin secretion from palmitate-treated human islets by utilizing different mechanisms.

Open access

Hyon-Seung Yi, Joon Young Chang and Minho Shong

Mitochondria perform essential roles as crucial organelles for cellular and systemic energy homeostasis, and as signaling hubs, which coordinate nuclear transcriptional responses to the intra- and extra-cellular environment. Complex human diseases, including diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease and aging-related degenerative diseases are associated with alterations in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) function. However, a recent series of studies in animal models have revealed that an integrated response to tolerable mitochondrial stress appears to render cells less susceptible to subsequent aging processes and metabolic stresses, which is a key feature of mitohormesis. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) is a central part of the mitohormetic response and is a retrograde signaling pathway, which utilizes the mitochondria-to-nucleus communication network. Our understanding of the UPRmt has contributed to elucidating the role of mitochondria in metabolic adaptation and lifespan regulation. In this review, we discuss and integrate recent data from the literature on the present status of mitochondrial OxPhos function in the development of metabolic diseases, relying on evidence from human and other animal studies, which points to alterations in mitochondrial function as a key factor in the regulation of metabolic diseases and conclude with a discussion on the specific roles of UPRmt and mitohormesis as a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of obesity and insulin resistance.

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Li Hu, Fengli He, Meifeng Huang, Meihua Peng, Zhiguang Zhou, Feng Liu and Yan-Shan Dai

Nuclear factors of activated T cells (NFAT) c3 have a prominent role in the regulation of proinflammatory factors in immune cells. The classically activated M1 macrophages are key players in the initiation and maintenance of adipose tissue (AT) inflammation. The role of NFATc3 in obesity and AT inflammation is unknown. We set out to determine how deficiency of NFATc3 effected macrophage polarization, inflammation and insulin resistance in visceral AT of high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Nfatc3−/− and WT mice were fed a HFD for 8–17 weeks. Epididymal white AT (eWAT) F4/80(+) cells were characterized by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and quantitative RT-PCR. Results showed that Nfatc3−/− mice developed HFD-induced obesity similar to WT mice, but insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance were improved, and liver fat accumulation was reduced in Nfatc3−/− mice compared to WT control mice. Moreover, M1 macrophage content and proinflammatory factors were reduced, whereas the alternatively activated M2 macrophage content was increased in eWAT of HFD-fed Nfatc3−/− mice compared to that of WT mice. In addition, eWAT insulin signaling was improved in HFD-fed Nfatc3−/− mice. Importantly, after bone-marrow-derived macrophages had been isolated from Nfatc3−/− mice and cultured in vitro, treatment of these cells with interferon-γ and lipopolysaccharide resulted in reduction of M1 inflammatory markers, suggesting that NFATc3 promoted M1 polarization by a cell-autonomous mechanism. The results demonstrated that NFATc3 played an important role in M1 macrophage polarization, AT inflammation and insulin resistance in response to obesity through transcriptional activation of proinflammatory genes.

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Mitsushige Ando, Masanori Goto, Masato Hojo, Aya Kita, Masashi Kitagawa, Toshiyuki Ohtsuka, Ryoichiro Kageyama and Susumu Miyamoto

Multiple signaling molecules and transcription factors are required for pituitary development. Activator-type bHLH genes Mash1, Math, NeuroD (Neurod) and Neurogenin (Neurog) are well known as key molecules in neural development. Although analyses of targeted mouse mutants have demonstrated involvement of these bHLH genes in pituitary development, studies with single-mutant mice could not elucidate their exact functions, because they cooperatively function and compensate each other. The aim of this study was to elucidate the roles of Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD in pituitary development. Mash1;Math3;NeuroD triple-mutant mice were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Misexpression studies with retroviruses in pituisphere cultures were also performed. The triple-mutant adenohypophysis was morphologically normal, though the lumen of the neurohypophysis remained unclosed. However, in triple-mutant pituitaries, somatotropes, gonadotropes and corticotropes were severely decreased, whereas lactotropes were increased. Misexpression of Mash1 alone with retrovirus could not induce generation of hormonal cells, though Mash1 was involved in differentiation of pituitary progenitor cells. These data suggest that Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD cooperatively control the timing of pituitary progenitor cell differentiation and that they are also required for subtype specification of pituitary hormonal cells. Mash1 is necessary for corticotroph and gonadotroph differentiation, and compensated by Math3 and NeuroD. Math3 is necessary for somatotroph differentiation, and compensated by Mash1 and NeuroD. Neurog2 may compensate Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD during pituitary development. Furthermore, Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD are required for neurohypophysis development. Thus, Mash1, Math3 and NeuroD are required for pituitary development, and compensate each other.

Free access

Hyeon Young Park, Hye Suk Kang and Seung-Soon Im

Fatty acids are essential nutrients that contribute to several intracellular functions. Fatty acid synthesis and oxidation are known to be regulated by sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), which play a pivotal role in the regulation of cellular triglyceride synthesis and cholesterol biogenesis. Recent studies point to a multifunctional role of SREBPs in the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases, such as obesity, type II diabetes and cancer as well as in immune responses. Notably, fatty acid metabolic intermediates are involved in energy homeostasis and pathophysiological conditions. In particular, intracellular fatty acid metabolism affects an inflammatory response, thereby influencing metabolic diseases. The objective of this review is to summarize the recent advances in our understanding of the dual role of SREBPs in both lipid metabolism and inflammation-mediated metabolic diseases.

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Dominique H Eghlidi, Selva L Luna, Donald I Brown, Vasilios T Garyfallou, Steven G Kohama and Henryk F Urbanski

In mammals, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is the location of a master circadian pacemaker. It receives photic signals from the environment via the retinal hypothalamic tract, which play a key role in synchronizing the body’s endogenously generated circadian rhythms with the 24-h rhythm of the environment. Therefore, it is plausible that age-related changes within the SCN contribute to the etiology of perturbed activity–rest cycles that become prevalent in humans during aging. To test this hypothesis, we used gene arrays and quantitative RT-PCR to profile age-related gene expression changes within the SCN of male rhesus macaques – a pragmatic translational animal model of human aging, which similarly displays an age-related attenuation of daytime activity levels. As expected, the SCN showed high expression of arginine vasopressin, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, calbindin and nuclear receptor subfamily 1, group D, member 1 (NR1D1) (also known as reverse strand of ERBA (REV-ERBα), both at the mRNA and protein level. However, no obvious difference was detected between the SCNs of young (7–12 years) and old animals (21–26 years), in terms of the expression of core clock genes or genes associated with SCN signaling and neurotransmission. These data demonstrate the resilience of the primate SCN to normal aging, at least at the transcriptional level and, at least in males, suggest that age-related disruption of activity–rest cycles in humans may instead stem from changes within other components of the circadian system, such as desynchronization of subordinate oscillators in other parts of the body.

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Jakob Bondo Hansen, Laila Romagueira Bichara Dos Santos, Ying Liu, Kacey J Prentice, Frederik Teudt, Morten Tonnesen, Jean-Christophe Jonas, Michael B Wheeler and Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) arises when the pancreatic beta-cell fails to compensate for increased insulin needs due to insulin resistance. Glucolipotoxicity (GLT) has been proposed to induce beta-cell dysfunction in T2D by formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Here, we examined if modeling glucolipotoxic conditions by high glucose-high free fatty acid (FFA) exposure (GLT) regulates beta-cell iron transport, by increasing the cytosolic labile iron pool (LIP). In isolated mouse islets, the GLT-induced increase in the LIP catalyzed cytosolic ROS formation and induced apoptosis. We show that GLT-induced ROS production is regulated by an increased LIP associated with elevated expression of genes regulating iron import. Using pharmacological and transgenic approaches, we show that iron reduction and decreased iron import protects from GLT-induced ROS production, prevents impairment of the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and inhibits apoptosis. This study identifies a novel pathway underlying GLT-induced apoptosis involving increased iron import, generation of hydroxyl radicals from hydrogen peroxide through the Fenton reaction in the cytosolic compartment associated with dissipation of the MMP and beta-cell apoptosis.

Free access

Kira Meyerovich, Fernanda Ortis and Alessandra K Cardozo

The prevalence of diabetes has reached 8.8% in worldwide population and is predicted to increase up to 10.4% by 2040. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of means to treat or prevent this major disease. Due to its role in inflammatory responses, several studies demonstrated the importance of the transcription factor nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in both type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). The two major NF-κB pathways are the canonical and the non-canonical. The later pathway is activated by the NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK) that triggers p100 processing into p52, which forms with RelB its main dimer. Cytokines mediating the activation of this pathway are present in the serum of T1D and T2D patients. Conversely, limited information is available regarding the role of the alternative pathway on diabetes development and β-cell fate. In the present review, we will briefly describe the involvement of NF-κB on diabetes pathology and discuss new studies indicating an important role for the non-canonical NF-κB activation in β-cell function and survival. The non-canonical NF-κB pathway is emerging as a novel potential target for the development of therapeutic strategies to treat or prevent diabetes.

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Jon Wolf Mueller and Paul A Foster