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Björn Hansson, Sebastian Wasserstrom, Björn Morén, Vipul Periwal, Petter Vikman, Samuel W Cushman, Olga Göransson, Petter Storm and Karin G Stenkula

To capture immediate cellular changes during diet-induced expansion of adipocyte cell volume and number, we characterized mature adipocytes during a short-term high-fat diet (HFD) intervention. Male C57BL6/J mice were fed chow diet, and then switched to HFD for 2, 4, 6 or 14 days. Systemic glucose clearance was assessed by glucose tolerance test. Adipose tissue was dissected for RNA-seq and cell size distribution analysis using coulter counting. Insulin response in isolated adipocytes was monitored by glucose uptake assay and Western blotting, and confocal microscopy was used to assess autophagic activity. Switching to HFD was accompanied by an immediate adipocyte size expansion and onset of systemic insulin resistance already after two days, followed by recruitment of new adipocytes. Despite an initially increased non-stimulated and preserved insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, we observed a decreased phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and protein kinase B (PKB). After 14 days of HFD, both the insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of Akt substrate of 160 kDa (AS160) and glucose uptake was blunted. RNA-seq analysis of adipose tissue revealed transient changes in gene expression at day four, including highly significant upregulation of Trp53inp, previously demonstrated to be involved in autophagy. We confirmed increased autophagy, measured as an increased density of LC3-positive puncta and decreased p62 expression after 14 days of HFD. In conclusion, HFD rapidly induced systemic insulin resistance, whereas insulin-stimulated glucose uptake remained intact throughout 6 days of HFD feeding. We also identified autophagy as an early cellular process that potentially influences adipocyte function upon switching to HFD.

Free access

N Hoggard, L Hunter, JS Duncan and DV Rayner

The central role of the melanocortin system in the regulation of energy balance has been studied in great detail. However, the functions of circulating melanocortins and the roles of their peripheral receptors remain to be elucidated. There is increasing evidence of a peripheral action of melanocortins in the regulation of leptin production by adipocytes. Here we investigate the interaction of alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) and agouti-related protein (AgRP) in the regulation of leptin secretion from cultured rat adipocytes and examine the changes in circulating alpha-MSH and AgRP in lean and obese rodents after hormonal and energetic challenge. Leptin secretion (measured by ELISA) and gene expression (by real-time quantitative PCR) of differentiated rat adipocytes cultured in vitro were inhibited by the administration of alpha-MSH (EC50=0.24 nM), and this effect was antagonised by antagonists of the melanocortin receptors MC4R and MC3R (AgRP and SHU9119). The presence of MC4R in rat adipocytes (RT-PCR and restriction digest) supports the involvement of this receptor subtype in this interaction. Leptin administered to ob/ob mice in turn increases the release of alpha-MSH into the circulation, suggesting a possible feedback loop between the site of alpha-MSH release and the release of leptin from the adipose tissue. However, the physiological significance of this putative feedback probably depends upon the underlying state of energy balance, since in the fasting state low plasma alpha-MSH is paralleled by low plasma leptin.

Free access

N Hoggard, M Cruickshank, K M Moar, P Barrett, S Bashir and J D B Miller

Inhibin βB (INHBB; coding for the activin βB subunit) has previously been identified in both human and rodent adipose tissue and using Taqman real-time PCR with specific primers we confirm the expression of INHBB mRNA in rodent adipose tissue. Expression of INHBB in murine epididymal adipose tissue was higher than in any of the other tissues studied and appears to be regulated by changes in energy balance and leptin. It was increased fourfold in the epididymal fat depot of ob/ob mice compared with the same fat depot in lean mice. The i.p. administration of leptin in obese ob/ob mice decreases the expression of INHBB. In human adipose tissue, INHBB is reduced by weight loss. In keeping with this, we demonstrate that INHBB expression in murine adipose tissue is decreased in fasting and increased upon refeeding. We show that INHBB is expressed in both the mature adipocyte and the stromal vascular fraction of adipose tissue. INHBB increases with the differentiation of pre-adipocytes into mature adipocytes in the 3T3-L1 cell line. In differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes, where receptors to activin have been previously reported, insulin increases the expression of INHBB, while dexamethasone decreases the expression of INHBB when compared with untreated control cells. Taken together, these results suggest that the regulation of INHBB expression in adipose tissue may play a physiological role in energy balance or the insulin insensitivity associated with obesity.

Free access

Qinyun Ma, Jianxia Fan, Jiqiu Wang, Shuai Yang, Qing Cong, Rui Wang, Qianqian Lv, Ruixin Liu and Guang Ning

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) presents with moderate inflammation, insulin resistance and impaired glucose uptake, which may result from increased maternal fat mass and increased circulation of placental hormones and adipokines. In this study, we set out to test whether the surge in chorionic gonadotrophin (CG) secretion is a cause of inflammation and impaired insulin sensitivity in GDM. We first found that LH/chorionic gonadotrophin receptors (CG/LHR) were expressed at low levels in insulin-sensitive murine 3T3-L1 adipocytes and murine C2C12 myocytes. CG treatment not only directly reduced insulin-responsive gene expression, including that of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), but also impaired insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 cells. Moreover, CG treatment increased the expression of the proinflammatory cytokine monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP1) and upregulated nuclear factor κ-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) activity in 3T3-L1 cells. Clinically, pregnant women who had higher CG levels and elevated MCP1 developed GDM. Above all, apart from prepregnancy BMI and MCP1 level, CG level was associated with abnormal glucose tolerance. In summary, our findings confirmed that higher CG levels in pregnancy possibly played a role in GDM development partly by impairing the functions of insulin, such those involved in as glucose uptake, while promoting inflammation in adipocyte.

Free access

Ashley A Able, Allison J Richard and Jacqueline M Stephens

STAT5A (signal transducer and activator of transcription 5A) is a transcription factor that plays a role in adipocyte development and function. In this study, we report DBC1 (deleted in breast cancer 1 – also known as CCAR2) as a novel STAT5A-interacting protein. DBC1 has been primarily studied in tumor cells, but there is evidence that loss of this protein may promote metabolic health in mice. Currently, the functions of DBC1 in mature adipocytes are largely unknown. Using immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting techniques, we confirmed that there is an association between endogenous STAT5A and DBC1 proteins under physiological conditions in the adipocyte nucleus that is not dependent upon STAT5A tyrosine phosphorylation. We used siRNA to knockdown DBC1 in 3T3-L1 adipocytes to determine the impact on STAT5A activity, adipocyte gene expression and TNFα (tumor necrosis factor α)-regulated lipolysis. The loss of DBC1 did not affect the expression of several STAT5A target genes including Socs3, Cish, Bcl6, Socs2 and Igf1. However, we did observe decreased levels of TNFα-induced glycerol and free fatty acids released from adipocytes with reduced DBC1 expression. In addition, DBC1-knockdown adipocytes had increased Glut4 expression. In summary, DBC1 can associate with STAT5A in adipocyte nucleus, but it does not appear to impact regulation of STAT5A target genes. Loss of adipocyte DBC1 modestly increases Glut4 gene expression and reduces TNFα-induced lipolysis. These observations are consistent with in vivo observations that show loss of DBC1 promotes metabolic health in mice.

Free access

M J Moreno-Aliaga, M M Swarbrick, S Lorente-Cebrián, K L Stanhope, P J Havel and J A Martínez

We have previously demonstrated that insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism, and not insulin per se, mediates the effects of insulin to increase the transcriptional activity of the leptin promoter in adipocytes. Here, we sought to identify the specific cis-acting DNA elements required for the upregulation of leptin gene transcription in response to insulin-mediated glucose metabolism. To accomplish this, 3T3-L1 cells and primary rat adipocytes were transfected with a series of luciferase reporter genes containing portions of the mouse leptin promoter. Using this method, we identified an element between −135 and −95 bp (relative to the transcriptional start site) that mediated transcription in response to insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism in adipocytes. This effect was abolished by incubation with 2-deoxy-d-glucose, a competitive inhibitor of glucose metabolism. Gel shift electrophoretic mobility shift assays confirmed that the stimulatory effect of insulin-mediated glucose metabolism on leptin transcription was mediated by a previously identified Sp1 site. Consistent with these findings, incubation of primary rat adipocytes with WP631, a specific inhibitor of specificity protein (Sp)1-dependent transcription, inhibited glucose- and insulin-stimulated, but not basal, leptin secretion. Together, these findings support a key role for Sp1 in the transcriptional activation of the leptin gene promoter by insulin-mediated glucose metabolism.

Free access

Ayse Basak Engin, Atilla Engin and Ipek Isik Gonul

Adipose tissue is the primary source of many pro-inflammatory cytokines in obesity. Macrophage numbers and pro-inflammatory gene expression are positively associated with adipocyte size. Free fatty acid and tumor necrosis factor-α involve in a vicious cycle between adipocytes and macrophages aggravating inflammatory changes. Thereby, M1 macrophages form a characteristic ‘crown-like structure (CLS)’ around necrotic adipocytes in obese adipose tissue. In obese women, CLSs of breast adipose tissue are responsible for both increase in local aromatase activity and aggressive behavior of breast cancer cells. Interlinked molecular mechanisms between adipocyte–macrophage–breast cancer cells in obesity involve seven consecutive processes: Excessive release of adipocyte- and macrophage-derived inflammatory cytokines, TSC1–TSC2 complex–mTOR crosstalk, insulin resistance, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and excessive oxidative stress generation, uncoupled respiration and hypoxia, SIRT1 controversy, the increased levels of aromatase activity and estrogen production. Considering elevated risks of estrogen receptor (E2R)-positive postmenopausal breast cancer growth in obesity, adipocyte–macrophage crosstalk is important in the aforementioned issues. Increased mTORC1 signaling in obesity ensures the strong activation of oncogenic signaling in E2Rα-positive breast cancer cells. Since insulin and insulin-like growth factors have been identified as tumor promoters, hyperinsulinemia is an independent risk factor for poor prognosis in breast cancer despite peripheral insulin resistance. The unpredictable effects of adipocyte-derived leptin–estrogen–macrophage axis, and sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)–adipose-resident macrophage axis in obese postmenopausal patients with breast cancer are unresolved mechanistic gaps in the molecular links between the tumor growth and adipocytokines.

Free access

Tingting Ren, Jinhan He, Hongfeng Jiang, Luxia Zu, Shenshen Pu, Xiaohui Guo and Guoheng Xu

In patients with type 2 non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), the biguanide, metformin, exerts its antihyperglycemic effect by improving insulin sensitivity, which is associated with decreased level of circulating free fatty acids (FFA). The flux of FFA and glycerol from adipose tissue to the blood stream primarily depends on the lipolysis of triacylglycerols in the adipocytes. Adipocyte lipolysis is physiologically stimulated by catecholamine hormones. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), a cytokine largely expressed in adipose tissue, stimulates chronic lipolysis, which may be associated with increased systemic FFA and insulin resistance in obesity and NIDDM. In this study, we examined the role of metformin in inhibiting lipolytic action upon various lipolytic stimulations in primary rat adipocytes. Treatment with metformin attenuated TNF-α-mediated lipolysis by suppressing phosphorylation of extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 and reversing the downregulation of perilipin protein in TNF-α-stimulated adipocytes. The acute lipolytic response to adrenergic stimulation of isoproterenol was also restricted by metformin. A high concentration of glucose in the adipocyte culture promoted the basal rate of glycerol release and significantly enhanced the lipolytic action stimulated by either TNF-α or isoproterenol. Metformin not only inhibits the basal lipolysis simulated by high glucose, but also suppresses the high glucose-enhanced lipolysis response to TNF-α or isoproterenol. The antilipolytic action in adipocytes could be the mechanism by which cellular action by metformin reduces systemic FFA concentration and thus improves insulin sensitivity in obese patients and the hyperglycemic conditions of NIDDM.

Free access

Junye Chen, Yi Lu, Mengyuan Tian and Qiren Huang

Forkhead box-O1 (FOXO1) is a downstream target of AKT and plays crucial roles in cell cycle control, apoptosis, metabolism and adipocyte differentiation. It is thought that FOXO1 affects adipocyte differentiation by regulating lipogenesis and cell cycle. With the deepening in the understanding of this field, it is currently believed that FOXO1 translocation between nuclei and cytoplasm is involved in the regulation of FOXO1 activity, thus affecting adipocyte differentiation. Translocation of FOXO1 depends on its post-translational modifications and interactions with 14-3-3. Based on these modifications and interactions, FOXO1 could regulate lipogenesis through PPARγ and the adipocyte cell cycle through p21 and p27. In this review, we aim to provide a comprehensive FOXO1 regulation network in adipocyte differentiation by linking together distinct functions mentioned above to explain their effects on adipocyte differentiation and to emphasize the regulatory role of FOXO1. In addition, we also focus on the novel findings such as the use of miRNAs in FOXO1 regulation and highlight the improvable issues, such as RNA modifications, for future research in the field.

Free access

Marina R Pulido, Yoana Rabanal-Ruiz, Farid Almabouada, Alberto Díaz-Ruiz, María A Burrell, María J Vázquez, Justo P Castaño, Rhonda D Kineman, Raúl M Luque, Carlos Diéguez, Rafael Vázquez-Martínez and María M Malagón

There is increasing evidence that proteins associated with lipid droplets (LDs) play a key role in the coordination of lipid storage and mobilization in adipocytes. The small GTPase, RAB18, has been recently identified as a novel component of the protein coat of LDs and proposed to play a role in both β-adrenergic stimulation of lipolysis and insulin-induced lipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. In order to better understand the role of Rab18 in the regulation of lipid metabolism in adipocytes, we evaluated the effects of age, fat location, metabolic status, and hormonal milieu on Rab18 expression in rodent white adipose tissue (WAT). Rab18 mRNA was undetectable at postnatal day 15 (P15), but reached adult levels by P45, in both male and female rats. In adult rats, Rab18 immunolocalized around LDs, as well as within the cytoplasm of mature adipocytes. A weak Rab18 signal was also detected in the stromal-vascular fraction of WAT. In mice, fasting significantly increased, though with a distinct time–course pattern, Rab18 mRNA and protein levels in visceral and subcutaneous WAT. The expression of Rab18 was also increased in visceral and subcutaneous WAT of obese mice (diet-induced, ob/ob, and New Zealand obese mice) compared with lean controls. Rab18 expression in rats was unaltered by castration, adrenalectomy, or GH deficiency but was increased by hypophysectomy, as well as hypothyroidism. When viewed together, our results suggest the participation of Rab18 in the regulation of lipid processing in adipose tissue under both normal and pathological conditions.