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Rebecca H Ritchie, Eser J Zerenturk, Darnel Prakoso and Anna C Calkin

Diabetic cardiomyopathy was first defined over four decades ago. It was observed in small post-mortem studies of diabetic patients who suffered from concomitant heart failure despite the absence of hypertension, coronary disease or other likely causal factors, as well as in large population studies such as the Framingham Heart Study. Subsequent studies continue to demonstrate an increased incidence of heart failure in the setting of diabetes independent of established risk factors, suggesting direct effects of diabetes on the myocardium. Impairments in glucose metabolism and handling receive the majority of the blame. The role of concomitant impairments in lipid handling, particularly at the level of the myocardium, has however received much less attention. Cardiac lipid accumulation commonly occurs in the setting of type 2 diabetes and has been suggested to play a direct causal role in the development of cardiomyopathy and heart failure in a process termed as cardiac lipotoxicity. Excess lipids promote numerous pathological processes linked to the development of cardiomyopathy, including mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation. Although somewhat underappreciated, cardiac lipotoxicity also occurs in the setting of type 1 diabetes. This phenomenon is, however, largely understudied in comparison to hyperglycaemia, which has been widely studied in this context. The current review addresses the changes in lipid metabolism occurring in the type 1 diabetic heart and how they are implicated in disease progression. Furthermore, the pathological pathways linked to cardiac lipotoxicity are discussed. Finally, we consider novel approaches for modulating lipid metabolism as a cardioprotective mechanism against cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

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Janne Lebeck

Obesity and secondary development of type 2 diabetes (T2D) are major health care problems throughout the developed world. Accumulating evidence suggest that glycerol metabolism contributes to the pathophysiology of obesity and T2D. Glycerol is a small molecule that serves as an important intermediate between carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. It is stored primarily in adipose tissue as the backbone of triglyceride (TG) and during states of metabolic stress, such as fasting and diabetes, it is released for metabolism in other tissues. In the liver, glycerol serves as a gluconeogenic precursor and it is used for the esterification of free fatty acid into TGs. Aquaporin 7 (AQP7) in adipose tissue and AQP9 in the liver are transmembrane proteins that belong to the subset of AQPs called aquaglyceroporins. AQP7 facilitates the efflux of glycerol from adipose tissue and AQP7 deficiency has been linked to TG accumulation in adipose tissue and adult onset obesity. On the other hand, AQP9 expressed in liver facilitates the hepatic uptake of glycerol and thereby the availability of glycerol for de novo synthesis of glucose and TG that both are involved in the pathophysiology of diabetes. The aim of this review was to summarize the current knowledge on the role of the two glycerol channels in controlling glycerol metabolism in adipose tissue and liver.

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L Lundholm, S Moverare, KR Steffensen, M Nilsson, M Otsuki, C Ohlsson, JA Gustafsson and K Dahlman-Wright

Estrogens reduce adipose tissue mass in both humans and animals. The molecular mechanisms for this effect are, however, not well characterized. We took a gene expression profiling approach to study the direct effects of estrogen on mouse white adipose tissue (WAT). Female ovariectomized mice were treated for 10, 24 and 48 h with 17beta-estradiol or vehicle. RNA was extracted from gonadal fat and hybridized to Affymetrix MG-U74Av2 arrays. 17beta-Estradiol was shown to decrease mRNA expression of liver X receptor (LXR) alpha after 10 h of treatment compared with the vehicle control. The expression of several LXRalpha target genes, such as sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c, apolipoprotein E, phospholipid transfer protein, ATP-binding cassette A1 and ATP-binding cassette G1, was similarly decreased. We furthermore identified a 1.5 kb LXRalpha promoter fragment that is negatively regulated by estrogen. Several genes involved in lipogenesis and lipolysis were identified as novel targets that could mediate estrogenic effects on adipose tissue. Finally, we show that ERalpha is the main estrogen receptor expressed in mouse white adipose tissue (WAT) with mRNA levels several hundred times higher than those of ERbeta mRNA.

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Rose Kohlie, Nina Perwitz, Julia Resch, Sebastian M Schmid, Hendrik Lehnert, Johannes Klein and K Alexander Iwen

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is key to energy homeostasis. By virtue of its thermogenic potential, it may dissipate excessive energy, regulate body weight and increase insulin sensitivity. Catecholamines are critically involved in the regulation of BAT thermogenesis, yet research has focussed on the effects of noradrenaline and adrenaline. Some evidence suggests a role of dopamine (DA) in BAT thermogenesis, but the cellular mechanisms involved have not been addressed. We employed our extensively characterised murine brown adipocyte cells. D1-like and D2-like receptors were detectable at the protein level. Stimulation with DA caused an increase in cAMP concentrations. Oxygen consumption rates (OCR), mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) levels increased after 24 h of treatment with either DA or a D1-like specific receptor agonist. A D1-like receptor antagonist abolished the DA-mediated effect on OCR, Δψm and UCP1. DA induced the release of fatty acids, which did not additionally alter DA-mediated increases of OCR. Mitochondrial mass (as determined by (i) CCCP- and oligomycin-mediated effects on OCR and (ii) immunoblot analysis of mitochondrial proteins) also increased within 24 h. This was accompanied by an increase in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1 alpha protein levels. Also, DA caused an increase in p38 MAPK phosphorylation and pharmacological inhibition of p38 MAPK abolished the DA-mediated effect on Δψm. In summary, our study is the first to reveal direct D1-like receptor and p38 MAPK-mediated increases of thermogenesis and mitochondrial mass in brown adipocytes. These results expand our understanding of catecholaminergic effects on BAT thermogenesis.

Free access

Patrizia Morera, Loredana Basiricò, Kenji Hosoda and Umberto Bernabucci

Heat stress (HS) induces adaptive responses that are responsible for alterations of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of chronic heat treatment on the expression and secretion of leptin and adiponectin, important regulators of energy homeostasis, food intake and insulin action. C57BL/6 mice were subdivided into three groups (24 mice each). The first group was kept under control conditions (C: 22±2 °C). The second group was exposed to HS (35±1 °C). The third group was kept under control conditions and was food restricted (FR). The HS group had higher rectal temperature than the C and FR groups and lower food intake than the C group. Hspa1 (Hspa1a) gene expression in adipose tissue, muscle and liver was higher under HS than FR and C. Heat treatment resulted in decreased blood glucose and non-esterified fatty acids; increased leptin, adiponectin and insulin secretion; and greater glucose disposal. Leptin, adiponectin, leptin and adiponectin receptors, insulin receptor substrate-1 and glucose transporter mRNAs were up-regulated in HS mice. This study provides evidence that HS improves leptin and adiponectin signalling in adipose tissue, muscle and liver. Heat stress was responsible for improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in peripheral tissues, probably mediated by adipokines. Changes in the adipokine levels and sensitivity to them may be considered as an adaptive response to heat.

Free access

Luke A Noon, Artem Bakmanidis, Adrian J L Clark, Peter J O’Shaughnessy and Peter J King

The ACTH receptor melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2-R) is a G-protein-coupled receptor principally expressed in the adrenal cortex and the adipocyte, where it stimulates steroidogenesis and lipolysis respectively. The coding region of the murine gene is encoded by a single exon, although three upstream non-coding exons have been documented, one of which is incorporated by alternative splicing in adrenal cells. We have detected a novel transcript in adipocytes, which includes a previously unidentified 86 bp exon upstream of the coding region. This transcript appears with slower kinetics during a time course of differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells and is much more highly expressed in these cells and murine adipose tissues than in the Y1 murine adrenocortical cell line, also it is undetectable in murine foetal testes. Inclusion of this exon extends the 5′ UTR to 468 bp and introduces three upstream open reading frames. These are typical features of mRNAs under translational control and imply that the MC2-R gene is regulated both transcriptionally and post-transcriptionally during adipogenesis.

Free access

N Hoggard, S Bashir, M Cruickshank, J D B Miller and J R Speakman

Bombesin is one of the most powerful substances showing anorexic effects in the hypothalamus (Moody TW & Merali Z 2004 Bombesin-like peptides and associated receptors within the brain: distribution and behavioral implications. Peptides 25 511–520). In mammals, neuromedin B (NMB) is one member of a family of bombesin-like peptides, which have been shown to reduce food intake when administered systemically. Using Taqman real-time PCR with specific primers, we report the expression of NMB mRNA in both human and rodent adipose tissue. Expression of NMB in rodent epididymal adipose tissue was higher than in other tissues studied. Expression of NMB in adipose tissue appears to be regulated by changes in energy balance and leptin. It is decreased fourfold in the epididymal fat depot of ob/ob mice when compared with the same fat depot in lean mice. It is further decreased with the intra-peritoneally (i.p.) administration of leptin in both lean and obese ob/ob mice. This may relate to its function in food intake regulation or to changes in energy expenditure. We demonstrate that NMB expression in rodent adipose tissue is decreased in cold exposed animals. However, when we investigated the effects of NMB on resting metabolic rate by i.p. injection, there was no effect on oxygen consumption, RQ or physical activity when compared with saline-treated controls. In conclusion, NMB is expressed in both human and rodent adipose tissue and appears to be regulated by changes in energy balance. Given its anorexic effects centrally, it may form part of a new adipose tissue – hypothalamic axis regulating food intake.

Free access

R Buettner, K G Parhofer, M Woenckhaus, C E Wrede, L A Kunz-Schughart, J Schölmerich and L C Bollheimer

High-fat (HF)-diet rodent models have contributed significantly to the analysis of the pathophysiology of the insulin resistance syndrome, but their phenotype varies distinctly between different studies. Here, we have systematically compared the metabolic and molecular effects of different HF with varying fatty acid compositions. Male Wistar rats were fed HF diets (42% energy; fat sources: HF-L – lard; HF-O – olive oil; HF-C – coconut fat; HF-F – fish oil). Weight, food intake, whole-body insulin tolerance and plasma parameters of glucose and lipid metabolism were measured during a 12-week diet course. Liver histologies and hepatic gene expression profiles, using Affymetrix GeneChips, were obtained. HF-L and HF-O fed rats showed the most pronounced obesity and insulin resistance; insulin sensitivity in HF-C and HF-F was close to normal. Plasma ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (ω-3-PUFA) and saturated fatty acid (C12-C14, SFA) levels were elevated in HF-F and HF-C animals respectively. The liver histologies showed hepatic steatosis in HF-L, HF-O and HF-C without major inflammation. Hepatic SREBP1c-dependent genes were upregulated in these diets, whereas PPARα-dependent genes were predominantly upregulated in HF-F fed rats. We detected classical HF effects only in diets based on lard and olive oil (mainly long-chain, saturated (LC-SFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)). PUFA- or MC-SFA-rich diets did not induce insulin resistance. Diets based on LC-SFA and MUFA induced hepatic steatosis with SREBP1c activation. This points to an intact transcriptional hepatic insulin effect despite resistance to insulin’s metabolic actions.

Free access

Jacqueline M Wallace, John S Milne, Raymond P Aitken, Dale A Redmer, Lawrence P Reynolds, Justin S Luther, Graham W Horgan and Clare L Adam

Low birthweight is a risk factor for neonatal mortality and adverse metabolic health, both of which are associated with inadequate prenatal adipose tissue development. In the present study, we investigated the impact of maternal undernutrition on the expression of genes that regulate fetal perirenal adipose tissue (PAT) development and function at gestation days 89 and 130 (term=145 days). Singleton fetuses were taken from adolescent ewes that were either fed control (C) intake to maintain adiposity throughout pregnancy or were undernourished (UN) to maintain conception weight but deplete maternal reserves (n=7/group). Fetal weight was independent of maternal intake at day 89, but by day 130, fetuses from UN dams were 17% lighter and had lower PAT mass that contained fewer unilocular adipocytes. Relative PAT expression of IGF1, IGF2, IGF2R and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) mRNA was lower in UN than in controls, predominantly at day 89. Independent of maternal nutrition, PAT gene expression of PPARG, glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, hormone sensitive lipase, leptin, uncoupling protein 1 and prolactin receptor increased, whereas IGF1, IGF2, IGF1R and IGF2R decreased between days 89 and 130. Fatty acid synthase and lipoprotein lipase (LPL) mRNAs were not influenced by nutrition or stage of pregnancy. Females had greater LPL and leptin mRNA than males, and LPL, leptin and PPARG mRNAs were decreased in UN at day 89 in females only. PAT gene expression correlations with PAT mass were stronger at day 89 than they were at day 130. These data suggest that the key genes that regulate adipose tissue development and function are active beginning in mid-gestation, at which point they are sensitive to maternal undernutrition: this leads to reduced fetal adiposity by late pregnancy.

Free access

Loes P M Duivenvoorde, Evert M van Schothorst, Annelies Bunschoten and Jaap Keijer

High energy intake and, specifically, high dietary fat intake challenge the mammalian metabolism and correlate with many metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. However, dietary restriction (DR) is known to prevent the development of metabolic disorders. The current western diets are highly enriched in fat, and it is as yet unclear whether DR on a certain high-fat (HF) diet elicits similar beneficial effects on health. In this research, we report that HF-DR improves metabolic health of mice compared with mice receiving the same diet on an ad libitum basis (HF-AL). Already after five weeks of restriction, the serum levels of cholesterol and leptin were significantly decreased in HF-DR mice, whereas their glucose sensitivity and serum adiponectin levels were increased. The body weight and measured serum parameters remained stable in the following 7 weeks of restriction, implying metabolic adaptation. To understand the molecular events associated with this adaptation, we analyzed gene expression in white adipose tissue (WAT) with whole genome microarrays. HF-DR strongly influenced gene expression in WAT; in total, 8643 genes were differentially expressed between both groups of mice, with a major role for genes involved in lipid metabolism and mitochondrial functioning. This was confirmed by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR and substantiated by increase in mitochondrial density in WAT of HF-DR mice. These results provide new insights in the metabolic flexibility of dietary restricted animals and suggest the development of substrate efficiency.