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Free access

Maggie C Evans and Greg M Anderson

Reproductive function in mammals is energetically costly and therefore tightly regulated by nutritional status. To enable this integration of metabolic and reproductive function, information regarding peripheral nutritional status must be relayed centrally to the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GNRH) neurons that drive reproductive function. The metabolically relevant hormones leptin, insulin and ghrelin have been identified as key mediators of this ‘metabolic control of fertility’. However, the neural circuitry through which they act to exert their control over GNRH drive remains incompletely understood. With the advent of Cre-LoxP technology, it has become possible to perform targeted gene-deletion and gene-rescue experiments and thus test the functional requirement and sufficiency, respectively, of discrete hormone–neuron signaling pathways in the metabolic control of reproductive function. This review discusses the findings from these investigations, and attempts to put them in context with what is known from clinical situations and wild-type animal models. What emerges from this discussion is clear evidence that the integration of nutritional signals on reproduction is complex and highly redundant, and therefore, surprisingly difficult to perturb. Consequently, the deletion of individual hormone–neuron signaling pathways often fails to cause reproductive phenotypes, despite strong evidence that the targeted pathway plays a role under normal physiological conditions. Although transgenic studies rarely reveal a critical role for discrete signaling pathways, they nevertheless prove to be a good strategy for identifying whether a targeted pathway is absolutely required, critically involved, sufficient or dispensable in the metabolic control of fertility.

Restricted access

D. Bretherton-Watt, M. A. Ghatei, S. Legon, H. Jamal, K. Suda and S. R. Bloom


Islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) in the pancreas of the spontaneously diabetic (BB) Wistar rat was examined by radioimmunoassay, and IAPP mRNA levels were determined by Northern blotting. IAPP-like immunoreactivity in the diabetic rat pancreas was found to be significantly depleted compared with control (non-diabetic) BB rats (85·9±5 pmol/g in control rats, n = 8, vs 8·97 ± 0·9 pmol/g in diabetic rats, n=5; mean ± s.e.m.). A similar change in insulin concentrations was found, although insulin was present in approximately 100-fold greater amounts than IAPP. Chromatography of the IAPP immunoreactivity revealed a single molecular form, corresponding to synthetic IAPP. Northern blot analysis of pancreatic RNA (n = 4) revealed that IAPP mRNA in the diabetic group was depleted to 22% of the signal intensity in the control group. Insulin mRNA was dramatically reduced to only 4% of the control group and, in contrast, somatostatin was relatively unaffected, with the diabetic group retaining 86% of signal compared with the controls.

This animal model of insulin-dependent diabetes results from severe autoimmune destruction of the β cell. The extremely low levels of both insulin and its messenger RNA are in agreement with this. These results demonstrate that this pathological state is also associated with a loss of IAPP from the pancreas. Insulin-dependent diabetes is associated with a range of metabolic disturbances. It is possible that the concomitant depletion of IAPP may be a contributory factor in exacerbating the condition.

Free access

Susan M van den Berg, Andrea D van Dam, Pascal J H Kusters, Linda Beckers, Myrthe den Toom, Saskia van der Velden, Jan Van den Bossche, Irma van Die, Mariëtte R Boon, Patrick C N Rensen, Esther Lutgens and Menno P J de Winther

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation and white adipose tissue (WAT) beiging can increase energy expenditure and have the potential to reduce obesity and associated diseases. The immune system is a potential target in mediating brown and beige adipocyte activation. Type 2 and anti-inflammatory immune cells contribute to metabolic homeostasis within lean WAT, with a prominent role for eosinophils and interleukin (IL)-4-induced anti-inflammatory macrophages. We determined eosinophil numbers in epididymal WAT (EpAT), subcutaneous WAT (ScAT) and BAT after 1 day, 3 days or 1 week of high-fat diet (HFD) feeding in C57Bl/6 mice. One day of HFD resulted in a rapid drop in eosinophil numbers in EpAT and BAT, and after 3 days, in ScAT. In an attempt to restore this HFD-induced drop in adipose tissue eosinophils, we treated 1-week HFD-fed mice with helminth antigens from Schistosoma mansoni or Trichuris suis and evaluated whether the well-known protective metabolic effects of helminth antigens involves BAT activation or beiging. Indeed, antigens of both helminth species induced high numbers of eosinophils in EpAT, but failed to induce beiging. In ScAT, Schistosoma mansoni antigens induced mild eosinophilia, which was accompanied by slightly more beiging. No effects were observed in BAT. To study type 2 responses on brown adipocytes directly, T37i cells were stimulated with IL-4. This increased Ucp1 expression and strongly induced the production of eosinophil chemoattractant CCL11 (+26-fold), revealing that brown adipocytes themselves can attract eosinophils. Our findings indicate that helminth antigen-induced eosinophilia fails to induce profound beiging of white adipocytes.

Free access

Juan Liu, Xiaocen Kong, Long Wang, Hanmei Qi, Wenjuan Di, Xiao Zhang, Lin Wu, Xia Chen, Jing Yu, Juanmin Zha, Shan Lv, Aisen Zhang, Peng Cheng, Miao Hu, Yujie Li, Jianhua Bi, Yan Li, Fang Hu, Yi Zhong, Yong Xu and Guoxian Ding

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) increases energy expenditure and is an attractive therapeutic target for obesity. 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), an amplifier of local glucocorticoid activity, has been shown to modulate white adipose tissue (WAT) metabolism and function. In this study, we investigated the roles of 11β-HSD1 in regulating BAT function. We observed a significant increase in the expression of BAT-specific genes, including UCP1, Cidea, Cox7a1, and Cox8b, in BVT.2733 (a selective inhibitor of 11β-HSD1)-treated and 11β-HSD1-deficient primary brown adipocytes of mice. By contrast, a remarkable decrease in BAT-specific gene expression was detected in brown adipocytes when 11β-HSD1 was overexpressed, which effect was reversed by BVT.2733 treatment. Consistent with the in vitro results, expression of a range of genes related to brown fat function in high-fat diet-fed mice treated with BVT.2733. Our results indicate that 11β-HSD1 acts as a vital regulator that controls the expression of genes related to brown fat function and as such may become a potential target in preventing obesity.

Free access

Z López-Ibarra, J Modrego, M Valero-Muñoz, P Rodríguez-Sierra, J J Zamorano-León, A González-Cantalapiedra, N de las Heras, S Ballesteros, V Lahera and A J López-Farré

It has been suggested that activated brown adipose tissue (BAT) shows increased glucose metabolic activity. However, less is known about metabolic activity of BAT under conditions of fasting and normal temperature. The aim of this study was to compare the possible differences in energetic metabolism between BAT and white adipose tissue (WAT) obtained from rabbits under the conditions of physiological temperature and 24 h after fasting conditions. The study was carried out on New Zealand rabbits (n=10) maintained for a period of 8 weeks at 23±2 °C. Food was removed 24 h before BAT and WAT were obtained. Protein expression levels of the glycolytic-related protein, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, and pyruvate dehydrogenase were higher in WAT than that in BAT. The expression level of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1) and CPT2, two fatty acid mitochondrial transporters, and the fatty acid β-oxidation-related enzyme, acyl CoA dehydrogenase, was higher in BAT than in WAT. Cytosolic malate dehydrogenase expression and malate dehydrogenase activity were higher in WAT than in BAT. However, lactate dehydrogenase expression and lactate content were significantly higher in BAT than in WAT. In summary, this study for the first time, to our knowledge, has described how under fasting and normal temperature conditions rabbit BAT seems to use anaerobic metabolism to provide energetic fuel, as opposed to WAT, where the malate–aspartate shuttle and, therefore, the gluconeogenic pathway seem to be potentiated.

Free access

Edra London, Maria Nesterova and Constantine A Stratakis

The cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) is an essential regulator of lipid and glucose metabolism that plays a critical role in energy homeostasis. The impact of diet on PKA signaling has not been defined, although perturbations in individual PKA subunits are associated with changes in adiposity, physical activity and energy intake in mice and humans. We hypothesized that a high fat diet (HFD) would elicit peripheral and central alterations in the PKA system that would differ depending on length of exposure to HFD; these differences could protect against or promote diet-induced obesity (DIO). 12-week-old C57Bl/6J mice were randomly assigned to a regular diet or HFD and weighed weekly throughout the feeding studies (4 days, 14 weeks; respectively), and during killing. PKA activity and subunit expression were measured in liver, gonadal adipose tissue (AT) and brain. Acute HFD-feeding suppressed basal hepatic PKA activity. In contrast, hepatic and hypothalamic PKA activities were significantly increased after chronic HFD-feeding. Changes in AT were more subtle, and overall, altered PKA regulation in response to chronic HFD exposure was more profound in female mice. The suppression of hepatic PKA activity after 4 day HFD-feeding was indicative of a protective peripheral effect against obesity in the context of overnutrition. In response to chronic HFD-feeding, and with the development of DIO, dysregulated hepatic and hypothalamic PKA signaling was a signature of obesity that is likely to promote further metabolic dysfunction in mice.

Free access

Ji Seon Park, Su Jung Bae, Sik-Won Choi, You Hwa Son, Sung Bum Park, Sang Dal Rhee, Hee Youn Kim, Won Hoon Jung, Seung Kyu Kang, Jin Hee Ahn, Seong Hwan Kim and Ki Young Kim

Selective inhibitors of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) have considerable potential as treatment for osteoporosis as well as metabolic syndrome including type 2 diabetes mellitus. Here, we investigated the anti-diabetic, anti-adipogenic, and anti-osteoporotic activity of KR-67500, as a novel selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitor. Cellular 11β-HSD1 activity was tested based on a homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence method. Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and insulin tolerance test (ITT) levels were measured in diet-induced obese (DIO)-C57BL/6 mice administered KR-67500 (50 mg/kg per day, p.o.) for 28 days and, additionally, its anti-diabetic effect was evaluated by OGTT and ITT. The in vitro anti-adipogenic effect of KR-67500 was determined by Oil Red O Staining. The in vitro anti-osteoporotic activity of KR-67500 was evaluated using bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2)-induced osteoblast differentiation and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL)-induced osteoclast differentiation model systems. KR-67500 improved the in vivo glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in DIO-C57BL/6 mice. KR-67500 suppressed cortisone-induced differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells into adipocytes. KR-67500 enhanced BMP2-induced osteoblastogenesis in C2C12 cells and inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis in mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages. KR-67500, a new selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitor, may provide a new therapeutic window in the prevention and/or treatment of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and/or osteoporosis.

Free access

Louise K Metcalfe, Greg C Smith and Nigel Turner

Essential elements of all cells – lipids – play important roles in energy production, signalling and as structural components. Despite these critical functions, excessive availability and intracellular accumulation of lipid is now recognised as a major factor contributing to many human diseases, including obesity and diabetes. In the context of these metabolic disorders, ectopic deposition of lipid has been proposed to have deleterious effects on insulin action. While this relationship has been recognised for some time now, there is currently no unifying mechanism to explain how lipids precipitate the development of insulin resistance. This review summarises the evidence linking specific lipid molecules to the induction of insulin resistance, describing some of the current controversies and challenges for future studies in this field.

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.

Free access

Carolina Gustavsson, Tomoyoshi Soga, Erik Wahlström, Mattias Vesterlund, Alireza Azimi, Gunnar Norstedt and Petra Tollet-Egnell

Male Zucker diabetic fatty (mZDF) rats spontaneously develop type 2 diabetes, whereas females only become diabetic when fed a diabetogenic high-fat diet (high-fat-fed female ZDF rat, HF-fZDF). The aim of this study was to investigate if differences in liver functions could provide clues to this sex difference. Non-diabetic obese fZDF rats were compared with either mZDF or HF-fZDF regarding hepatic molecular profiles, to single out those components that might be protective in the females. High-fat feeding in fZDF led to enhanced weight gain, increased blood glucose and insulin levels, reduced insulin sensitivity and a trend towards reduced glucose tolerance, indicative of a prediabetic state. mZDF rats were diabetic, with low levels of insulin, high levels of glucose, reduced insulin sensitivity and impaired glucose tolerance. Transcript profiling and capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry were used to indentify hepatic transcripts and metabolites that might be related to this. Many diet-induced alterations in transcript and metabolite levels in female rats were towards a ‘male-like’ phenotype, including reduced lipogenesis, increased fatty acid (FA) oxidation and increased oxidative stress responses. Alterations detected at the level of hepatic metabolites, indicated lower capacity for glutathione (GSH) production in male rats, and higher GSH turnover in females. Taken together, this could be interpreted as if anabolic pathways involving lipogenesis and lipid output might limit the degree of FA oxidation and oxidative stress in female rats. Together with a greater capacity to produce GSH, these hepatic sex differences might contribute to the sex-different development of diabetes in ZDF rats.