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Open access

Gemma Tan, Andrew G Elefanty and Edouard G Stanley

Diabetes can be managed by careful monitoring of blood glucose and timely delivery of exogenous insulin. However, even with fastidious compliance, people with diabetes can suffer from numerous complications including atherosclerosis, retinopathy, neuropathy, and kidney disease. This is because delivery of exogenous insulin coupled with glucose monitoring cannot provide the fine level of glucose control normally provided by endogenous β-cells in the context of intact islets. Moreover, a subset of people with diabetes lack awareness of hypoglycemic events; a status that can have grave consequences. Therefore, much effort has been focused on replacing lost or dysfunctional β-cells with cells derived from other sources. The advent of stem cell biology and cellular reprogramming strategies have provided impetus to this work and raised hopes that a β-cell replacement therapy is on the horizon. In this review, we look at two components that will be required for successful β-cell replacement therapy: a reliable and safe source of β-cells and a mechanism by which such cells can be delivered and protected from host immune destruction. Particular attention is paid to insulin-producing cells derived from pluripotent stem cells because this platform addresses the issue of scale, one of the more significant hurdles associated with potential cell-based therapies. We also review methods for encapsulating transplanted cells, a technique that allows grafts to evade immune attack and survive for a long term in the absence of ongoing immunosuppression. In surveying the literature, we conclude that there are still several substantial hurdles that need to be cleared before a stem cell-based β-cell replacement therapy for diabetes becomes a reality.

Open access

Farhana Naznin, Koji Toshinai, T M Zaved Waise, Tadashi Okada, Hideyuki Sakoda and Masamitsu Nakazato

High-fat diet (HFD)-induced metabolic inflammation in the central and peripheral organs contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity. Long-term HFD blunts signaling by ghrelin, a gastric-derived orexigenic peptide, in the vagal afferent nerve via a mechanism involving in situ activation of inflammation. This study was undertaken to investigate whether ghrelin resistance is associated with progressive development of metabolic inflammation. In mice, ghrelin’s orexigenic activity was abolished 2–4 weeks after the commencement of HFD (60% of energy from fat), consistent with the timing of accumulation and activation of macrophages and microglia in the nodose ganglion and hypothalamus. Calorie-restricted weight loss after 12-week HFD feeding restored ghrelin responsiveness and alleviated the upregulation of macrophage/microglia activation markers and inflammatory cytokines. HSP72, a chaperone protein, was upregulated in the hypothalamus of HFD-fed mice, potentially contributing to prevention of irreversible neuron damage. These results demonstrate that ghrelin resistance is reversible following reversal of the HFD-induced inflammation and obesity phenotypes.

Open access

Irit Hochberg, Innocence Harvey, Quynh T Tran, Erin J Stephenson, Ariel L Barkan, Alan R Saltiel, William F Chandler and Dave Bridges

Glucocorticoids have major effects on adipose tissue metabolism. To study tissue mRNA expression changes induced by chronic elevated endogenous glucocorticoids, we performed RNA sequencing on the subcutaneous adipose tissue from patients with Cushing's disease (n=5) compared to patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (n=11). We found a higher expression of transcripts involved in several metabolic pathways, including lipogenesis, proteolysis and glucose oxidation as well as a decreased expression of transcripts involved in inflammation and protein synthesis. To further study this in a model system, we subjected mice to dexamethasone treatment for 12 weeks and analyzed their inguinal (subcutaneous) fat pads, which led to similar findings. Additionally, mice treated with dexamethasone showed drastic decreases in lean body mass as well as increased fat mass, further supporting the human transcriptomic data. These data provide insight to transcriptional changes that may be responsible for the comorbidities associated with chronic elevations of glucocorticoids.

Open access

Yihong Wan and Ronald M Evans

The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) is a key transcriptional regulator of both lipid metabolism and inflammation. The importance of PPARγ is accentuated by the widespread use of synthetic PPARγ agonists, thiazolidinediones (such as rosiglitazone), as drugs for insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Fractalkine (FKN) and FKN receptor (FR) play an important role in the immune responses by regulating leukocyte migration and adhesion to inflamed peripheral tissues. In this study, we have identified a novel link between PPARγ activation and FKN signaling. On one hand, the activation of PPARγ by rosiglitazone in macrophages not only represses the transcription of the FR gene, but also prevents the plasma membrane translocation of the FR protein. On the other hand, the activation of PPARγ by rosiglitazone in endothelial cells also impedes the nuclear export of FKN. Together, these data suggest that PPARγ activation represses FKN signaling. These findings indicate a previously unrecognized mechanism that may contribute to the anti-inflammatory effect of PPARγ.

Open access

Jian-Hua Chen, Maria Segni, Felicity Payne, Isabel Huang-Doran, Alison Sleigh, Claire Adams, UK10K Consortium, David B Savage, Stephen O'Rahilly, Robert K Semple and Inês Barroso

We describe a female proband with primordial dwarfism, skeletal dysplasia, facial dysmorphism, extreme dyslipidaemic insulin resistance and fatty liver associated with a novel homozygous frameshift mutation in POC1A, predicted to affect two of the three protein products of the gene. POC1A encodes a protein associated with centrioles throughout the cell cycle and implicated in both mitotic spindle and primary ciliary function. Three homozygous mutations affecting all isoforms of POC1A have recently been implicated in a similar syndrome of primordial dwarfism, although no detailed metabolic phenotypes were described. Primary cells from the proband we describe exhibited increased centrosome amplification and multipolar spindle formation during mitosis, but showed normal DNA content, arguing against mitotic skipping, cleavage failure or cell fusion. Despite evidence of increased DNA damage in cells with supernumerary centrosomes, no aneuploidy was detected. Extensive centrosome clustering both at mitotic spindles and in primary cilia mitigated the consequences of centrosome amplification, and primary ciliary formation was normal. Although further metabolic studies of patients with POC1A mutations are warranted, we suggest that POC1A may be added to ALMS1 and PCNT as examples of centrosomal or pericentriolar proteins whose dysfunction leads to extreme dyslipidaemic insulin resistance. Further investigation of links between these molecular defects and adipose tissue dysfunction is likely to yield insights into mechanisms of adipose tissue maintenance and regeneration that are critical to metabolic health.

Open access

Daniela Nasteska and David J Hodson

It is becoming increasingly apparent that not all insulin-secreting beta cells are equal. Subtle differences exist at the transcriptomic and protein expression levels, with repercussions for beta cell survival/proliferation, calcium signalling and insulin release. Notably, beta cell heterogeneity displays plasticity during development, metabolic stress and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Thus, heterogeneity or lack thereof may be an important contributor to beta cell failure during T2DM in both rodents and humans. The present review will discuss the molecular and cellular features of beta cell heterogeneity at both the single-cell and islet level, explore how this influences islet function and insulin release and look into the alterations that may occur during obesity and T2DM.

Open access

Gillian A Gray, Christopher I White, Raphael F P Castellan, Sara J McSweeney and Karen E Chapman

Corticosteroids influence the development and function of the heart and its response to injury and pressure overload via actions on glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid (MR) receptors. Systemic corticosteroid concentration depends largely on the activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, but glucocorticoid can also be regenerated from intrinsically inert metabolites by the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), selectively increasing glucocorticoid levels within cells and tissues. Extensive studies have revealed the roles for glucocorticoid regeneration by 11β-HSD1 in liver, adipose, brain and other tissues, but until recently, there has been little focus on the heart. This article reviews the evidence for glucocorticoid metabolism by 11β-HSD1 in the heart and for a role of 11β-HSD1 activity in determining the myocardial growth and physiological function. We also consider the potential of 11β-HSD1 as a therapeutic target to enhance repair after myocardial infarction and to prevent the development of cardiac remodelling and heart failure.

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.

Open access

Paul de Goede, Jakob Wefers, Eline Constance Brombacher, Patrick Schrauwen and Andries Kalsbeek

Many physiological processes are regulated with a 24-h periodicity to anticipate the environmental changes of daytime to nighttime and vice versa. These 24-h regulations, commonly termed circadian rhythms, among others control the sleep–wake cycle, locomotor activity and preparation for food availability during the active phase (daytime for humans and nighttime for nocturnal animals). Disturbing circadian rhythms at the organ or whole-body level by social jetlag or shift work, increases the risk to develop chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus. The molecular basis of this risk is a topic of increasing interest. Mitochondria are essential organelles that produce the majority of energy in eukaryotes by converting lipids and carbohydrates into ATP through oxidative phosphorylation. To adapt to the ever-changing environment, mitochondria are highly dynamic in form and function and a loss of this flexibility is linked to metabolic diseases. Interestingly, recent studies have indicated that changes in mitochondrial morphology (i.e., fusion and fission) as well as generation of new mitochondria are dependent on a viable circadian clock. In addition, fission and fusion processes display diurnal changes that are aligned to the light/darkness cycle. Besides morphological changes, mitochondrial respiration also displays diurnal changes. Disturbing the molecular clock in animal models leads to abrogated mitochondrial rhythmicity and altered respiration. Moreover, mitochondrial-dependent production of reactive oxygen species, which plays a role in cellular signaling, has also been linked to the circadian clock. In this review, we will summarize recent advances in the study of circadian rhythms of mitochondria and how this is linked to the molecular circadian clock.

Open access

Ting Xiao, Xiuci Liang, Hailan Liu, Feng Zhang, Wen Meng and Fang Hu

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are associated with hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance. Molecular mechanisms underlying ER stress and/or mitochondrial dysfunction that cause metabolic disorders and hepatic steatosis remain to be fully understood. Here, we found that a high fat diet (HFD) or chemically induced ER stress can stimulate mitochondrial stress protein HSP60 expression, impair mitochondrial respiration, and decrease mitochondrial membrane potential in mouse hepatocytes. HSP60 overexpression promotes ER stress and hepatic lipogenic protein expression and impairs insulin signaling in mouse hepatocytes. Mechanistically, HSP60 regulates ER stress-induced hepatic lipogenesis via the mTORC1-SREBP1 signaling pathway. These results suggest that HSP60 is an important ER and mitochondrial stress cross-talking protein and may control ER stress-induced hepatic lipogenesis and insulin resistance.