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Type 2 diabetes (T2D) has become a major health problem worldwide. Skeletal muscle (SKM) is the key tissue for whole-body glucose disposal and utilization. New drugs aimed at improving insulin sensitivity of SKM would greatly expand available therapeutic options. β-arrestin-1 and -2 (Barr1 and Barr2, respectively) are two intracellular proteins best known for their ability to mediate the desensitization and internalization of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Recent studies suggest that Barr1 and Barr2 regulate several important metabolic functions including insulin release and hepatic glucose production. Since SKM expresses many GPCRs, including the metabolically important β2-adrenergic receptor, the goal of this study was to examine the potential roles of Barr1 and Barr2 in regulating SKM and whole-body glucose metabolism. Using SKM-specific knockout (KO) mouse lines, we showed that the loss of SKM Barr2, but not of SKM Barr1, resulted in mild improvements in glucose tolerance in diet-induced obese mice. SKM-specific Barr1- and Barr2-KO mice did not show any significant differences in exercise performance. However, lack of SKM Barr2 led to increased glycogen breakdown following a treadmill exercise challenge. Interestingly, mice that lacked both Barr1 and Barr2 in SKM showed no significant metabolic phenotypes. Thus, somewhat surprisingly, our data indicate that SKM β-arrestins play only rather subtle roles (SKM Barr2) in regulating whole-body glucose homeostasis and SKM insulin sensitivity.
Adverse alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota have been implicated in the development of obesity and a variety of chronic diseases. Re-engineering the gut microbiota to produce beneficial metabolites is a potential strategy for treating these chronic diseases. N-acyl-phosphatidylethanolamines (NAPEs) are a family of bioactive lipids with known anti-obesity properties. Previous studies showed that administration of Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) engineered with Arabidopsis thaliana NAPE synthase to produce NAPEs imparted resistance to obesity induced by a high-fat diet that persisted after ending their administration. In prior studies, mice were pre-treated with ampicillin prior to administering engineered EcN for 8 weeks in drinking water. If use of antibiotics and long-term administration are required for beneficial effects, implementation of this strategy in humans might be problematic. Studies were therefore undertaken to determine if less onerous protocols could still impart persistent resistance and sustained NAPE biosynthesis. Administration of engineered EcN for only 2 weeks without pre-treatment with antibiotics sufficed to establish persistent resistance. Sustained NAPE biosynthesis by EcN was required as antibiotic treatment after administration of the engineered EcN markedly attenuated its effects. Finally, heterologous expression of human phospholipase A/acyltransferase-2 (PLAAT2) in EcN provided similar resistance to obesity as heterologous expression of A. thaliana NAPE synthase, confirming that NAPEs are the bioactive mediator of this resistance.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW - Research over the past decade has shown that immunologic and metabolic pathways are intricately linked. This burgeoning field of immunometabolism includes intrinsic and extrinsic pathways and is known to be associated with obesity-accelerated metabolic disease. Intrinsic immunometabolism includes the study of fuel utilization and bioenergetic pathways that influence immune cell function. Extrinsic immunometabolism includes the study of immune cells and products that influence systemic metabolism.
RECENT FINDINGS - Th2 immunity, macrophage iron handling, adaptive immune memory, and epigenetic regulation of immunity, which all require intrinsic metabolic changes, play a role in systemic metabolism and metabolic function, linking the two arms of immunometabolism. Together, this suggests that targeting intrinsic immunometabolism can directly affect immune function and ultimately systemic metabolism. We highlight important questions for future basic research that will help improve translational research and provide therapeutic targets to help establish new treatments for obesity and associated metabolic disorders.
Integrin-linked kinase (ILK) is a critical intracellular signaling node for integrin receptors. Its role in liver development is complex, as ILK deletion at E10.5 (before hepatocyte differentiation) results in biochemical and morphological differences that resolve as mice age. Nevertheless, mice with ILK depleted specifically in hepatocytes are protected from the hepatic insulin resistance during obesity. Despite the potential importance of hepatocyte ILK to metabolic health, it is unknown how ILK controls hepatic metabolism or glucoregulation. The present study tested the role of ILK in hepatic metabolism and glucoregulation by deleting it specifically in hepatocytes, using a cre-lox system that begins expression at E15.5 (after initiation of hepatocyte differentiation). These mice develop the most severe morphological and glucoregulatory abnormalities at 6 wk, but these gradually resolve with age. After identifying when the deletion of ILK caused a severe metabolic phenotype, in depth studies were performed at this time point to define the metabolic programs that coordinate control of glucoregulation that are regulated by ILK. We show that 6-wk-old ILK-deficient mice have higher glucose tolerance and decreased net glycogen synthesis. Additionally, ILK was shown to be necessary for transcription of mitochondrial-related genes, oxidative metabolism, and maintenance of cellular energy status. Thus, ILK is required for maintaining hepatic transcriptional and metabolic programs that sustain oxidative metabolism, which are required for hepatic maintenance of glucose homeostasis.
Bile acids are involved in the emulsification and absorption of dietary fats, as well as acting as signaling molecules. Recently, bile acid signaling through farnesoid X receptor and G protein-coupled bile acid receptor (TGR5) has been reported to elicit changes in not only bile acid synthesis but also metabolic processes, including the alteration of gluconeogenic gene expression and energy expenditure. A role for bile acids in glucose metabolism is also supported by a correlation between changes in the metabolic state of patients (i.e., obesity or postbariatric surgery) and altered serum bile acid levels. However, despite evidence for a role for bile acids during metabolically challenging settings, the direct effect of elevated bile acids on insulin action in the absence of metabolic disease has yet to be investigated. The present study examines the impact of acutely elevated plasma bile acid levels on insulin sensitivity using hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps. In wild-type mice, elevated bile acids impair hepatic insulin sensitivity by blunting the insulin suppression of hepatic glucose production. The impaired hepatic insulin sensitivity could not be attributed to TGR5 signaling, as TGR5 knockout mice exhibited a similar inhibition of insulin suppression of hepatic glucose production. Canonical insulin signaling pathways, such as hepatic PKB (or Akt) activation, were not perturbed in these animals. Interestingly, bile acid infusion directly into the portal vein did not result in an impairment in hepatic insulin sensitivity. Overall, the data indicate that acute increases in circulating bile acids in lean mice impair hepatic insulin sensitivity via an indirect mechanism.
Hypothalamic melanocortin neurons play a pivotal role in weight regulation. Here, we examined the contribution of Semaphorin 3 (SEMA3) signaling to the development of these circuits. In genetic studies, we found 40 rare variants in SEMA3A-G and their receptors (PLXNA1-4; NRP1-2) in 573 severely obese individuals; variants disrupted secretion and/or signaling through multiple molecular mechanisms. Rare variants in this set of genes were significantly enriched in 982 severely obese cases compared to 4,449 controls. In a zebrafish mutagenesis screen, deletion of 7 genes in this pathway led to increased somatic growth and/or adiposity demonstrating that disruption of Semaphorin 3 signaling perturbs energy homeostasis. In mice, deletion of the Neuropilin-2 receptor in Pro-opiomelanocortin neurons disrupted their projections from the arcuate to the paraventricular nucleus, reduced energy expenditure, and caused weight gain. Cumulatively, these studies demonstrate that SEMA3-mediated signaling drives the development of hypothalamic melanocortin circuits involved in energy homeostasis.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Obesity is highly prevalent among blacks and is associated with a greater risk of heart failure (HF). However, the contribution of regional adiposity depots such as visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue toward risk of HF in blacks is unknown.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We included 2602 participants (mean age: 59 years, 35% men) from the Jackson Heart Study without prevalent HF who underwent computed tomography quantification of VAT and subcutaneous adipose tissue during the second visit (2005-2009). The associations between different adiposity measures and HF were evaluated using adjusted Cox models. There were 122 incident HF events over a median follow-up of 7.1 years. Higher amounts of VAT were associated with greater risk of HF in age- and sex-adjusted analyses (hazard ratio [95% CI] per 1-SD higher VAT: 1.29 [1.09-1.52]). This association was attenuated and not significant after additional adjustment for traditional HF risk factors and body mass index. Overall obesity, represented by body mass index, was associated with higher risk of HF independent of risk factors and VAT (hazard ratio [95% CI] per 1-kg/m higher body mass index: 1.06 [1.02-1.11]). Subcutaneous adipose tissue was not associated with risk of HF in adjusted analyses.
CONCLUSIONS - In a community-dwelling black population, higher amounts of overall and visceral adiposity are associated with higher risk of HF. The association between VAT and HF risk in blacks may reflect differences in traditional HF risk factor burden. Future studies are needed to confirm this observation and clarify the independent role of different measures of adiposity on HF outcomes.