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Yueting Dong, Zhiye Xu, Ziyi Zhang, Xueyao Yin, Xihua Lin, Hong Li and Fenping Zheng

Liver X receptors (LXR) are deemed as potential drug targets for atherosclerosis, whereas a role in adipose tissue expansion and its relation to insulin sensitivity remains unclear. To assess the metabolic effects of LXR activation by the dual LXRα/β agonist T0901317, C57BL/6 mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) were treated with T0901317 (30 mg/kg once daily by intraperitoneal injection) for 3 weeks. Differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes were used for analysing the effect of T0901317 on glucose uptake. The following results were obtained from this study. T0901317 reduced fat mass, accompanied by a massive fatty liver and lower serum adipokine levels in HFD mice. Increased adipocyte apoptosis was found in epididymal fat of T0901317-treated HFD mice. In addition, T0901317 treatment promoted basal lipolysis, but blunted the anti-lipolytic action of insulin. Furthermore, LXR activation antagonised PPARγ target genes in epididymal fat and PPARγ-PPRE-binding activity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Although the glucose tolerance was comparable to that in HFD mice, the insulin response during IPGTT was significantly higher and the insulin tolerance was significantly impaired in T0901317-treated HFD mice, indicating decreased insulin sensitivity by T0901317 administration, and which was further supported by impaired insulin signalling found in epididymal fat and decreased insulin-induced glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes by T0901317 administration. In conclusion, these findings reveal that LXR activation impairs adipose expansion by increasing adipocyte apoptosis, lipolysis and antagonising PPARγ-mediated transcriptional activity, which contributes to decreased insulin sensitivity in whole body. The potential of LXR activation being a therapeutic target for atherosclerosis might be limited by the possibility of exacerbating insulin resistance.

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Thomas Svava Nielsen, Niels Jessen, Jens Otto L Jørgensen, Niels Møller and Sten Lund

Lipolysis is the process by which triglycerides (TGs) are hydrolyzed to free fatty acids (FFAs) and glycerol. In adipocytes, this is achieved by sequential action of adipose TG lipase (ATGL), hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), and monoglyceride lipase. The activity in the lipolytic pathway is tightly regulated by hormonal and nutritional factors. Under conditions of negative energy balance such as fasting and exercise, stimulation of lipolysis results in a profound increase in FFA release from adipose tissue (AT). This response is crucial in order to provide the organism with a sufficient supply of substrate for oxidative metabolism. However, failure to efficiently suppress lipolysis when FFA demands are low can have serious metabolic consequences and is believed to be a key mechanism in the development of type 2 diabetes in obesity. As the discovery of ATGL in 2004, substantial progress has been made in the delineation of the remarkable complexity of the regulatory network controlling adipocyte lipolysis. Notably, regulatory mechanisms have been identified on multiple levels of the lipolytic pathway, including gene transcription and translation, post-translational modifications, intracellular localization, protein–protein interactions, and protein stability/degradation. Here, we provide an overview of the recent advances in the field of AT lipolysis with particular focus on the molecular regulation of the two main lipases, ATGL and HSL, and the intracellular and extracellular signals affecting their activity.

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Jiung-Pang Huang, Sheng-Chieh Hsu, Yaa-Jyuhn James Meir, Po-Shiuan Hsieh, Chih-Chun Chang, Kuan-Hsing Chen, Jan-Kan Chen and Li-Man Hung

Many studies have reported the causes of obese metabolic syndrome (MS); however, the causes of nonobese MS (NMS) remain unknown. In this study, we demonstrated that inflamed dysfunctional adipose tissue plays a crucial role in cholesterol-induced NMS. Control (C), high cholesterol (HC) and HC with 10% fructose in drinking water (HCF) diets were fed to Sprague–Dawley rats for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, the body weights of the C- and HC-fed rats were comparable, but the weights of the HCF-fed rats were relatively low. Cholesterol caused metabolic problems such as high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia and hypoinsulinemia. The HCF-fed rats exhibited whole-body insulin resistance with low circulating high-density lipoprotein levels. Increases in the tumor necrosis factor α level in the plasma, the number of CD68+ macrophages and the free nuclear factor-κB level in gonadal white adipose tissue (gWAT) resulted in local inflammation, which appeared as inflamed dysfunctional gWAT. Reduced superoxide dismutases (SODs) deteriorate natural antioxidant defense systems and induce reactive oxygen species in gWAT. Dysregulation of plasma levels of catecholamine, adipokines (leptin and adiponectin), hormone-sensitive lipase and perilipin in cholesterol-induced inflamed adipose tissue contributed to increased lipolysis and increased circulating nonesterified fatty acids. Cholesterol activated inflammation, lipolysis and cell death in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Moreover, Chol-3T3-CM reduced the population of M2-type Raw264.7 macrophages, indicating that the macrophage polarization is mediated by cholesterol. Together, our findings indicate that inflamed dysfunctional adipocytes are critical in NMS, supporting the development of anti-inflammatory agents as potential therapeutic drugs for treating NMS.

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C Attané, D Daviaud, C Dray, R Dusaulcy, M Masseboeuf, D Prévot, C Carpéné, I Castan-Laurell and P Valet

Apelin is a peptide present in different cell types and secreted by adipocytes in humans and rodents. Apelin exerts its effects through a G-protein-coupled receptor called APJ. During the past years, a role of apelin/APJ in energy metabolism has emerged. Apelin was shown to stimulate glucose uptake in skeletal muscle through an AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-dependent pathway in mice. So far, no metabolic effects of apelin have been reported on human adipose tissue (AT). Thus, the effect of apelin on AMPK in AT was measured as well as AMPK-mediated effects such as inhibition of lipolysis and stimulation of glucose uptake. AMPK and acetyl-CoA carboxylase phosphorylation were measured by western blot to reflect the AMPK activity. Lipolysis and glucose uptake were measured, ex vivo, in response to apelin on isolated adipocytes and explants from AT of the subcutaneous region of healthy subjects (body mass index: 25.6±0.8 kg/m2, n=30 in total). APJ mRNA and protein are present in human AT and isolated adipocytes. Apelin stimulated AMPK phosphorylation at Thr-172 in a dose-dependent manner in human AT, which was associated with increased glucose uptake since C compound (20 μM), an AMPK inhibitor, completely prevented apelin-induced glucose uptake. However, in isolated adipocytes or AT explants, apelin had no significant effect on basal and isoprenaline-stimulated lipolysis. Thus, these results reveal, for the first time, that apelin is able to act on human AT in order to stimulate AMPK and glucose uptake.

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Andrew Whittle

Obesity rates are increasing alongside those of its co-morbidities, placing a huge strain on health systems across the globe. Evidence points to inappropriate levels of ectopic lipid accumulation outside of adipose tissue being a major factor in the progression of many of these diseases. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has a huge capacity to remove lipids from the circulatory system to fuel thermogenesis. Multiple studies have now confirmed the existence of active BAT in adult humans, making strategies aimed at activating it a potential therapeutic option in obese subjects. In recent years, researchers working in murine models have found a wide range of endogenous molecules with specific roles regulating BAT. These findings place BAT firmly within the wider network of physiological regulation covering global metabolism. They also highlight the possibility of targeting thermogenesis in a safe and specific manner to remove potentially harmful lipids released from stressed or failing white adipose tissue in obese states.

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C Bolduc, M Larose, M Yoshioka, P Ye, P Belleau, C Labrie, J Morissette, V Raymond, F Labrie and J St-Amand

Intra-abdominal fat accumulation is related to several diseases, especially diabetes and heart disease. Molecular mechanisms associated with this independent risk factor are not well established. Through the serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) strategy, we have studied the transcriptomic effects of castration and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in retroperitoneal adipose tissue of C57BL6 male mice. Approximately 50 000 SAGE tags were isolated in intact and gonadectomized mice, as well as 3 and 24 h after DHT administration. Transcripts involved in energy metabolism, such as glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, malic enzyme supernatant, fatty acid synthase, lipoprotein lipase, hormone-sensitive lipase and monoglyceride lipase, were upregulated by DHT. Transcripts involved in adipogenesis, and cell cycle and cell shape organization, such as DDX5, C/EBPα, cyclin I, procollagen types I, III, IV, V and VI, SPARC and matrix metalloproteinase 2, were upregulated by DHT. Cell defense, division and signaling, protein expression and many novel transcripts were regulated by castration and DHT. The present results provide global genomic evidence for a stimulation of glycolysis, fatty acids and triacylglycerol production, lipolysis and cell shape reorganization, as well as cell proliferation and differentiation, by DHT. The novel transcripts regulated by DHT may contribute to identify new mechanisms involved in the action of sex hormones and their potential role in obesity.

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B. Beck

Summary

The gastrointestinal hormone, gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), has been isolated and characterized because of its enterogastrone-type effects. It is also named glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and is actually considered to be the main incretin factor of the entero-insular axis. Besides these well-described effects on gastric secretion and pancreatic β cells, it also has direct metabolic effects on other tissues and organs, such as adipose tissue, liver, muscle, gastrointestinal tract and brain. In adipose tissue it is involved in the activation and regulation of lipoprotein lipase (LPL); it also inhibits glucagon-induced lipolysis and potentiates the effect of insulin on incorporation of fatty acids into triglycerides. It may play a role in the development of obesity because of the hypersensitivity of adipose tissue of obese animals to some of these actions. In the liver it does not modify insulin extraction, and its incretin effects are due only to the stimulation of insulin secretion and synthesis. It reduces hepatic glucose output and inhibits glucagon-stimulated glycogenolysis. It might increase glucose utilization in peripheral tissues such as muscle. GIP also has an effect on the volume and/or electrolyte composition of intestinal secretion and saliva. The functional importance of its effect on the hormones of the anterior pituitary lobe remains to be established, as it has never been detected in the brain.

Its links with insulin are very close and the presence of insulin is sometimes necessary for the greater efficiency of both hormones. GIP can be considered as a true metabolic hormone, with most of its functions tending to increase anabolism.

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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.

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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.

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

The mobilization of free fatty acids (FFA) from adipose tissue to the bloodstream primarily depends on triacylglycerol lipolysis in adipocytes. Catecholamines are major hormones that govern lipolysis through elevating cellular cAMP production and activating protein kinase, cAMP dependent, catalytic, alpha (PKA) and mitogen-activated protein kinase 1/2 (MAPK1/3). Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with elevated levels of systemic FFA, which restricts glucose utilization and induces insulin resistance. The biguanide metformin exerts its antihyperglycemic effect by enhancing insulin sensitivity, which is associated with decreased levels of circulating FFA. In this study, we examined the characteristics and basis of the inhibitory effect of metformin on adrenergic-stimulated lipolysis in primary rat adipocytes. We measured the release of FFA and glycerol as an index of lipolysis and examined the major signalings of the lipolytic cascade in primary rat adipocytes. Metformin at 250–500 μM efficiently attenuated FFA and glycerol release from the adipocytes stimulated with 1 μM isoproterenol. To elucidate the basis for this antilipolytic action, we showed that metformin decreased cellular cAMP production, reduced the activities of PKA and MAPK1/3, and attenuated the phosphorylation of perilipin during isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis. Further, metformin suppressed isoproterenol-promoted lipase activity but did not affect the translocation of lipase, hormone-sensitive from the cytosol to lipid droplets in adipocytes. This study provides evidence that metformin acts on adipocytes to suppress the lipolysis response to catecholamine. This antilipolytic effect could be a cellular basis for metformin decreasing plasma FFA levels and improving insulin sensitivity.