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Bo Zhou, Huixia Li, Jiali Liu, Lin Xu, Qinyue Guo, Hongzhi Sun and Shufang Wu

Progranulin (PGRN) has recently emerged as an important regulator for insulin resistance. However, the direct effect of PGRN in vivo and the underlying role of progranulin in adipose insulin resistance involving the autophagy mechanism is not fully understood. In this study, mice treated with PGRN for 21 days exhibited the impaired glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, remarkable adipose autophagy as well as attenuated insulin signaling via inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Furthermore, blockade of tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFR1) by TNFR1BP-Fc injection resulted in the restoration of impaired insulin sensitivity and insulin signaling induced by PGRN. Consistent with these findings in vivo, PGRN treatment induced defective insulin signaling, abnormal autophagic and mitochondrial activity in cultured adipocytes, while such effects were nullified by the blockade of TNFR1. In addition, PGRN-deficient adipocytes were more refractory to tunicamycin- or dexamethasone-induced insulin resistance, indicating the causative role of the TNFR1 pathway in the action of PGRN. Collectively, our findings support the notion that PGRN is a key regulator of insulin resistance and that PGRN may mediate its effects, at least in part, by inducing autophagy via the TNFR1-dependent mechanism.

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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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FY Diao, M Xu, Y Hu, J Li, Z Xu, M Lin, L Wang, Y Zhou, Z Zhou, J Liu and J Sha

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders; it is characterized by polycystic ovaries, hyperandrogenism and chronic anovulation. To obtain a global view of those genes that might be involved in the development of this complex clinical disorder, we used recently developed cDNA microarray technology to compare differential gene expressions between normal human ovary and ovaries from PCOS patients. A total of 9216 clones randomly selected from a commercial human ovary cDNA library were screened. Among them, 290 clones showed differential expressions, including 119 known genes and 100 known or unknown expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Among 119 known genes, 88 were upregulated and 31 downregulated in the PCOS ovary, as compared with normal human ovary. These differentially expressed genes are involved in various biologic functions, such as cell division/apoptosis, regulation of gene expression and metabolism, reflecting the complexity of clinical manifestations of PCOS. The molecular characteristics established from our study will further our understanding of the pathogenesis of PCOS and help us to identify new targets for further studies and for the development of new therapeutic interventions.

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Hui Juan Zhu, Hui Pan, Xu Zhe Zhang, Nai Shi Li, Lin Jie Wang, Hong Bo Yang and Feng Ying Gong

Myostatin is a critical negative regulator of skeletal muscle development, and has been reported to be involved in the progression of obesity and diabetes. In the present study, we explored the effects of myostatin on the proliferation and differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes by using 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl] 2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide spectrophotometry, intracellular triglyceride (TG) assays, and real-time quantitative RT-PCR methods. The results indicated that recombinant myostatin significantly promoted the proliferation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and the expression of proliferation-related genes, including Cyclin B2, Cyclin D 1, Cyclin E1, Pcna, and c-Myc, and IGF1 levels in the medium of 3T3-L1 were notably upregulated by 35.2, 30.5, 20.5, 33.4, 51.2, and 179% respectively (all P<0.01) in myostatin-treated 3T3-L1 cells. Meanwhile, the intracellular lipid content of myostatin-treated cells was notably reduced as compared with the non-treated cells. Additionally, the mRNA levels of Ppar γ, Cebp α, Gpdh, Dgat, Acs1, Atgl, and Hsl were significantly downregulated by 22–76% in fully differentiated myostatin-treated adipocytes. Finally, myostatin regulated the mRNA levels and secretion of adipokines, including Adiponectin, Resistin, Visfatin, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in 3T3-L1 adipocytes (all P<0.001). Above all, myostatin promoted 3T3-L1 proliferation by increasing the expression of cell-proliferation-related genes and by stimulating IGF1 secretion. Myostatin inhibited 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation by suppressing Ppar γ and Cebp α expression, which consequently deceased lipid accumulation in 3T3-L1 cells by inhibiting the expression of critical lipogenic enzymes and by promoting the expression of lipolytic enzymes. Finally, myostatin modulated the expression and secretion of adipokines in fully differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes.

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Huixia Li, Zhuanmin Zhang, Dongxu Feng, Lin Xu, Fang Li, Jiali Liu, Xinxin Jin, Zhuang Qian, Xiaomin Kang and Hongzhi Sun

Progranulin (PGRN), a multifunctional protein implicated in embryonic development and immune response, was recently introduced as a novel marker of chronic inflammation related with insulin resistance in obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, the potential mechanisms of PGRN on insulin signaling pathways are poorly understood. In this study, PGRN mediated the chemotaxis of RAW264.7, impaired insulin action and stimulated production of inflammatory factors in adipocytes, which was accompanied by increased c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation and serine phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate-1. PGRN knockdown partially led to an increase in insulin action as well as a decrease in the JNK activation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation in cells exposed to tumor-necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Meanwhile, PGRN treatment resulted in an elevation of transcription factor nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) nuclear translocation and acetylation, and increased Il-1b, Il6, Tnf-a expression, whereas NF-κB inhibition reversed PGRN-induced insulin action impairment and inflammatory gene expression. Finally, we showed that sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) expression was downregulated by PGRN treatment, whereas SIRT1 overexpression improved PGRN-induced insulin resistance, NF-κB activation, and inflammatory gene expression. Our results suggest that PGRN regulates adipose tissue inflammation possibly by controlling the gain of proinflammatory transcription in a SIRT1-NF-κB dependent manner in response to inducers such as fatty acids and endoplasmic reticulum stress.

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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.