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Free access

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.

Free access

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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Tae Woo Jung, Hyoung-Chun Kim, Yong Kyoo Shin, Hyeyoung Min, Seong-Wan Cho, Zi Soo Kim, Su Mi Han, A M Abd El-Aty, Ahmet Hacımüftüoğlu and Ji Hoon Jeong

An aqueous extract of Humulus japonicus (AH) has been documented to ameliorate hypertension and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Here, we investigated the effects of an aqueous extract of AH on thermogenesis and palmitate-induced oxidative stress in adipocytes. To verify the effect of AH on browning, we measured the expression levels of specific markers in 3T3-L1 adipocytes using qPCR and Western blotting, respectively. To assess the role of oxidative stress, cells were stained with DCFDA and observed by fluorescence microscopy. AH increased the expression of brown adipose tissue-specific markers. Additionally, it induced fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis and suppressed both lipogenic markers and lipid accumulation. Furthermore, AH ameliorated hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Enhanced expression of these markers contributed to fat browning, fatty acid oxidation and lipolysis of 3T3-L1 adipocytes via the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta (PPARδ) signaling pathways. Moreover, AMPK and PPARδ resulting in protective effects of AH against oxidative stress. In sum, AH could promote the browning, lipolysis and thermogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and would suppress the hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and lipogenesis during differentiation. We therefore suggest that AH could be used as a potential candidate for treating obesity and related metabolic disorders.

Free access

Yingkai Sun, Rui Wang, Shaoqian Zhao, Wen Li, Wen Liu, Lingyun Tang, Zhugang Wang, Weiqing Wang, Ruixin Liu, Guang Ning, Jiqiu Wang and Jie Hong

Browning of white adipose tissue has been proven to be a potential target to fight against obesity and its metabolic commodities, making the exploration of molecules involved in browning process important. Among those browning agents reported recently, FGF21 play as a quite promising candidate for treating obesity for its obvious enhancement of thermogenic capacity in adipocyte and significant improvement of metabolic disorders in both mice and human. However, whether other members of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family play roles in adipose thermogenesis and obese development is still an open question. Here, we examined the mRNA expression of all FGF family members in three adipose tissues of male C57BL/6 mice and found that FGF9 is highly expressed in adipose tissue and decreased under cold stress. Furthermore, FGF9 treatment inhibited thermogenic genes in the process of beige adipocytes differentiation from stromal vascular fraction (SVF) in a dose-dependent manner. Similar results were obtained with FGF9 overexpression. Consistently, knockdown of FGF9 in SVF cells by using lentiviral shRNA increased thermogenic genes in differentiated beige adipocytes. RNA sequencing analysis revealed a significant increment of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway in the early stage of beige adipocytes differentiation under FGF9 treatment, which was validated by real-time PCR. FGF9 expression was increased in subcutaneous WAT of obese human and mice. This study shows that adipose-derived FGF9 play as an inhibitory role in the browning of white adipocytes. Activation of hypoxia signaling at early stage of adipose browning process may contribute to this anti-thermogenic effect of FGF9.

Free access

Carmelo Quarta, Roberta Mazza, Renato Pasquali and Uberto Pagotto

The recent demonstration that metabolically active brown adipose tissue (BAT) is present with a high prevalence in humans undoubtedly represents one of the major advancements in the field of metabolic research in the last few years. The increasing interest in BAT is justified by preclinical observations highlighting an important role of this tissue in energy dissipation and metabolic clearance of substrates from the blood. These findings imply that stimulation of BAT activity may represent a new therapeutic approach for obesity and associated comorbidities. However, before proposing BAT as a target organ for therapeutics in a clinical setting, many further notions about BAT function and modulation need to be explored. Keeping in mind the importance of sex dimorphism in energy metabolism control under physiological and pathological conditions, sex hormones may play a relevant role in the regulation of BAT activity in both males and females. Much of the evidence acquired in the past supports the concept of an important role for different sex hormones in BAT thermogenesis and indicates that this tissue mediates the ability of sex hormones to modulate energy balance. These findings make it plausible that a modified interaction between BAT and sex hormones may contribute to the development and the maintenance of obesity and associated metabolic complications.

Free access

Anke Gutgesell, Robert Ringseis, Eileen Schmidt, Corinna Brandsch, Gabriele I Stangl and Klaus Eder

Previous studies have shown that genes involved in fatty acid uptake, fatty acid oxidation, and thermogenesis are downregulated in liver and skeletal muscle of rats during lactation. However, biochemical mechanisms underlying these important metabolic adaptations during lactation have not yet been elucidated. As all these genes are transcriptionally regulated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (Ppar α), we hypothesized that their downregulation is mediated by a suppression of Ppar α during lactation. In order to investigate this hypothesis, we performed an experiment with lactating and nonlactating Ppar α knockout and corresponding wild-type mice. In wild-type mice, lactation led to a considerable downregulation of Ppar α, Ppar coactivators Pgc1 α and Pgc1 β, and Ppar α target genes involved in fatty acid uptake, fatty acid oxidation, and thermogenesis in liver and skeletal muscle (P<0.05). Ppar α knockout mice had generally a lower expression of all these Ppar α target genes in liver and skeletal muscle. However, in those mice, lactation did not lower the expression of genes involved in fatty acid utilization and thermogenesis in liver and skeletal muscle. Expression levels of Ppar α target genes in lactating wild-type mice were similar than in lactating or nonlactating Ppar α knockout mice. In conclusion, the present findings suggest that downregulation of Ppar α and its coactivators in tissues with high rates of fatty acid catabolism is responsible for the reduced utilization of fatty acids in liver and skeletal muscle and the reduced thermogenesis occurring in the lactating animal, which aim to conserve energy and metabolic substrates for milk production in the mammary gland.

Free access

Raghunath Chatterjee, Paramita Bhattacharya, Oksana Gavrilova, Kimberly Glass, Jaideep Moitra, Max Myakishev, Stephanie Pack, William Jou, Lionel Feigenbaum, Michael Eckhaus and Charles Vinson

Adipose-specific inactivation of both AP-1 and CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) families of B-ZIP transcription factors in transgenic mice causes severe lipoatrophy. To evaluate whether inactivation of only C/EBP members was critical for lipoatrophy, A-C/EBP, a dominant-negative protein that specifically inhibits the DNA binding of the C/EBP members, was expressed in adipose tissue. For the first 2 weeks after birth, aP2-A-C/EBP mice had no white adipose tissue (WAT), drastically reduced brown adipose tissue (BAT), and exhibited marked hepatic steatosis, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperlipidemia. However, WAT appeared during the third week, coinciding with significantly improved metabolic functioning. In adults, BAT remained reduced, causing cold intolerance. At 30 weeks, the aP2-A-C/EBP mice had only 35% reduced WAT, with clear morphological signs of lipodystrophy in subcutaneous fat. Circulating leptin and adiponectin levels were less than the wild-type levels, and these mice exhibited impaired triglyceride clearance. Insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and reduced free fatty acid release in response to β3-adrenergic agonist suggest improper functioning of the residual WAT. Gene expression analysis of inguinal WAT identified reduced mRNA levels of several enzymes involved in fatty acid synthesis and glucose metabolism that are known C/EBPα transcriptional targets. There were increased levels for genes involved in inflammation and muscle differentiation. However, when dermal fibroblasts from aP2-A-C/EBP mice were differentiated into adipocytes in tissue culture, muscle markers were elevated more than the inflammatory markers. These results demonstrate that the C/EBP family is essential for adipose tissue development during the early postnatal period, the regulation of glucose and lipid homeostasis in adults, and the suppression of the muscle lineage.

Free access

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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Choa Park, Joonwoo Park, Myeong Kuk Shim, Mee-Ra Rhyu, Byung-Koo Yoon, Kyung Sook Kim and YoungJoo Lee

Atherosclerosis is the most common root cause of arterial disease, such as coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease. Hypoxia is associated with the formation of macrophages and increased inflammation and is known to be present in lesions of atherosclerotic. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are one of the major components of blood vessels, and hypoxic conditions affect VSMC inflammation, proliferation and migration, which contribute to vascular stenosis and play a major role in the atherosclerotic process. Estrogen receptor (ER)-β is thought to play an important role in preventing the inflammatory response in VSMCs. In this report, we studied the anti-inflammatory effect of indazole (In)-Cl, an ERβ-specific agonist, under conditions of hypoxia. Expression of cyclooxygenase-2 reduced by hypoxia was inhibited by In-Cl treatment in VSMCs, and this effect was antagonized by an anti-estrogen compound. Additionally, the production of reactive oxygen species induced under conditions of hypoxia was reduced by treatment with In-Cl. Increased cell migration and invasion by hypoxia were also dramatically decreased following treatment with In-Cl. The increase in cell proliferation following treatment with platelet-derived growth factor was attenuated by In-Cl in VSMCs. RNA sequencing analysis was performed to identify changes in inflammation-related genes following In-Cl treatment in the hypoxic state. Our results suggest that ERβ is a potential therapeutic target for the suppression of hypoxia-induced inflammation in VSMCs.

Free access

Thalijn Liliana Catharina Wolters, Mihai Gheorghe Netea, Adrianus Rudolfus Marinus Maria Hermus, Johannes Willem Adriaan Smit and Romana Teodora Netea-Maier

Acromegaly is characterized by growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) excess and is accompanied by an increased cardiovascular diseases (CVD) risk. As innate immune responses are crucial in CVD development, and IGF1 is linked to subclinical inflammation, we hypothesized that GH/IGF1 excess contributes to CVD development by potentiating systemic inflammation. We aimed to assess the effects of GH/IGF1 on inflammatory cytokine production. Whole blood from acromegaly patients and healthy volunteers and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from healthy volunteers were stimulated with Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, with or without adding GH or IGF1 (in PBMC). Cytokine concentrations were measured by ELISA. The underlying signalling pathways were investigated by the inhibition of downstream targets of the IGF1 receptor. The following results were obtained. GH or IGF1 alone did not influence cytokine production in PBMCs. GH did not affect TLR-induced cytokine production, but co-stimulation with IGF1 dose dependently increased the TLR ligand-induced production of IL6 (P < 0.01), TNF alpha (P = 0.02) and IFNg (P < 0.01), as well as the production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL10 (P = 0.01). IGF1 had no effect on IL1B, IL17 and IL22 production. Inhibition of the MAPK pathway, but not mTOR, completely abrogated the synergistic effect of IGF1 on the LPS-induced IL6 and TNF alpha production. In whole blood of acromegaly patients, ex vivo IL6 production was increased (P < 0.01). In conclusion, IGF1, but not GH, has pro-inflammatory effects, probably via the MAPK signalling pathway and might be involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in acromegaly. The increased IL10 production possibly counteracts the pro-inflammatory effects.