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Free access

M Skrzypski, M Billert, K W Nowak and M Z Strowski

Orexin A and B are two neuropeptides, which regulate a variety of physiological functions by interacting with central nervous system and peripheral tissues. Biological effects of orexins are mediated through two G-protein-coupled receptors (OXR1 and OXR2). In addition to their strong influence on the sleep–wake cycle, there is growing evidence that orexins regulate body weight, glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, orexins promote energy expenditure and protect against obesity by interacting with brown adipocytes. Fat tissue and the endocrine pancreas play pivotal roles in maintaining energy homeostasis. Since both organs are crucially important in the context of pathophysiology of obesity and diabetes, we summarize the current knowledge regarding the role of orexins and their receptors in controlling adipocytes as well as the endocrine pancreatic functions. Particularly, we discuss studies evaluating the effects of orexins in controlling brown and white adipocytes as well as pancreatic alpha and beta cell functions.

Free access

SE Ozanne, CL Wang, MW Dorling and CJ Petry

Numerous studies have shown a relationship between early growth restriction and Type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that offspring of rats fed a low protein (LP) diet during pregnancy and lactation have a worse glucose tolerance in late adult life compared with controls. In contrast, in young adult life LP offspring have a better glucose tolerance which is associated with increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake into skeletal muscle. The aim of the present study was to compare the regulation of glucose uptake and lipolysis in adipocytes by insulin in control and LP offspring. LP adipocytes had increased basal and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake compared with controls. There was no difference in basal rates of lipolysis. Isoproterenol stimulated lipolysis in both groups, but it was more effective on LP adipocytes. Insulin reduced lipolytic rates in controls to basal levels but had a reduced effect in LP adipocytes. Protein kinase B activity matched glucose uptake, with LP adipocytes having elevated activities. These results suggest that early growth retardation has long-term effects on adipocyte metabolism. In addition, they show selective resistance to different metabolic actions of insulin and provide insight into the mechanisms by which insulin regulates glucose uptake and lipolysis.

Free access

C G Walker, M C Sugden, G F Gibbons and M J Holness

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) is a transcription factor that regulates enzymes involved in fatty acid (FA) utilisation. PPARα null mice have recently been demonstrated to have increased whole-body glucose turnover in vivo. This has been attributed to increased glucose uptake by adipose tissue, but the impact of PPARα deficiency on the characteristics of glucose handling by isolated adipocytes ex vivo is unknown. To determine directly the impact of PPARα deficiency on adipocyte glucose handling, thereby excluding any influence of humoral/neuronal factors, we examined total glucose metabolism as well as glucose disposition towards alternative fates in epididymal adipocytes isolated from wild-type and PPARαnull mice. Total glucose metabolism (oxidation, incorporation into FA and glycerol moieties of triglyceride (TAG) and conversion to lactate) was measured under basal conditions (low glucose) and ‘stimulated lipogenic’ conditions (high glucose + insulin). Adipocytes from PPARα null mice had higher rates of glucose metabolism under both basal and stimulated lipogenic conditions, with increased glucose utilisation both for oxidation and entry into the synthesis of the FA and glycerol components of lipid. In particular, the capacity of adipocytes from PPARα-deficient mice to utilise glucose for synthesis of the glycerol backbone of TAG was greatly enhanced under stimulated (high glucose + insulin) conditions. The increased use of glucose for the glycerol moiety of adipocyte TAG may therefore contribute to, and provide explanation for, enhanced glucose turnover in PPARα null mice.

Free access

A Feraco, A Armani, R Urbanet, A Nguyen Dinh Cat, V Marzolla, F Jaisser and M Caprio

Obesity is a major risk factor that contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) expression is increased in the adipose tissue of obese patients and several studies provide evidence that MR pharmacological antagonism improves glucose metabolism in genetic and diet-induced mouse models of obesity. In order to investigate whether the lack of adipocyte MR is sufficient to explain these beneficial metabolic effects, we generated a mouse model with inducible adipocyte-specific deletion of Nr3c2 gene encoding MR (adipo-MRKO). We observed a significant, yet not complete, reduction of Nr3c2 transcript and MR protein expression in subcutaneous and visceral adipose depots of adipo-MRKO mice. Notably, only mature adipocyte fraction lacks MR, whereas the stromal vascular fraction maintains normal MR expression in our mouse model. Adipo-MRKO mice fed a 45% high-fat diet for 14 weeks did not show any significant difference in body weight and fat mass compared to control littermates. Glucose and insulin tolerance tests revealed that mature adipocyte MR deficiency did not improve insulin sensitivity in response to a metabolic homeostatic challenge. Accordingly, no significant changes were observed in gene expression profile of adipogenic and inflammatory markers in adipose tissue of adipo-MRKO mice. Moreover, pharmacological MR antagonism in mature primary murine adipocytes, which differentiated ex vivo from WT mice, did not display any effect on adipokine expression. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the depletion of MR in mature adipocytes displays a minor role in diet-induced obesity and metabolic dysfunctions.

Open access

Jeffrey Friedman

Historically, adipose tissue was considered to be a passive storage vessel discharging nutrients in times of famine and accumulating fat in times of surfeit. This view changed with the identification of leptin as an adipocyte hormone. Leptin functions as an afferent signal in a negative feedback loop that regulates food intake and metabolism to maintain homeostatic control of adipose tissue mass. Before this, the existence of a system maintaining homeostatic control of energy balance was unclear. The identification of leptin has thus uncovered a new endocrine system that also links changes in nutrition to adaptive responses in most if not all other physiologic systems. Further studies have revealed a set of clinical syndromes caused by leptin deficiency, including lipodystrophy and hypothalamic amenorrhea. This work has led to new therapeutic approaches for a number of human conditions and has also established a conceptual framework for studying the pathogenesis of obesity.

Free access

Amy Warner and Jens Mittag

Obesity and its comorbidities are a growing problem worldwide. In consequence, several new strategies have been proposed to promote weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity. Recently, it has been demonstrated that certain populations of white adipocytes can be ‘browned’, i.e., recruited to a more brown-like adipocyte, capable of thermogenesis through increased expression of uncoupling protein 1. The list of browning agents that induce these so-called beige adipocytes is growing constantly. However, the underlying mechanisms are often poorly understood, with the possibility that some of these agents cause browning as a secondary effect. Moreover, it remains unclear whether beige adipocytes can contribute sufficiently to affect whole-body energy expenditure in a functionally significant manner. This review presents an overview of the different molecular pathways leading to the induction of beige fat, including direct stimulation and indirect actions on the CNS or the immune system. We discuss the available evidence on the capacity of beige adipocytes to influence whole-body energy expenditure in rodents, and lastly outline the potential problems of translating browning capacity into the potential treatment of human metabolic diseases.

Free access

Mathias Fasshauer, Johannes Klein, Susan Kralisch, Margit Klier, Ulrike Lossner, Matthias Bluher and Ralf Paschke

A chronic increase in systemic levels of acute-phase reactants contributes to the development of insulin resistance and associated disorders such as cardiovascular disease. Recently, serum amyloid A3 (SAA3) has been characterized as an adipocyte-secreted acute-phase reactant, expression of which is dramatically increased in insulin resistance and obesity. To further clarify expression and regulation of this adipocytokine in fat, SAA3 mRNA was measured by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR during differentiation of 3T3-L1 adipocytes and after treatment with various hormones known to induce insulin resistance and contribute to atherosclerosis. SAA3 mRNA was dramatically induced up to 77-fold during differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Furthermore, 100 nM dexamethasone and 30 ng/ml interleukin (IL)-6 induced SAA3 mRNA by up to 11- and 4.8-fold, respectively, in a time-dependent fashion with significant stimulation observed at concentrations as low as 10 nM dexamethasone and 1 ng/ml IL-6. In contrast, insulin, isoproterenol and growth hormone did not influence SAA3 synthesis. Inhibitor studies suggested that the positive effect of IL-6 on SAA3 expression is at least in part mediated by Janus kinase 2. Taken together, our results show a differential regulation of SAA3 by glucocorticoids and IL-6 supporting an integrative role of this acute-phase reactant in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and its link to obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Free access

Karen Oliva, Gillian Barker, Gregory E Rice, Mark J Bailey and Martha Lappas

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a significant risk factor for the type 2 diabetes epidemic in many populations. Maternal adipose tissue plays a central role in the pathophysiology of GDM. Thus, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of GDM on the proteome of adipose tissue. Omental adipose tissue was obtained at the time of term Caesarean section from women with normal glucose tolerance (NGT) or GDM. 2D-difference gel electrophoresis (DIGE), followed by mass spectrometry, was used to identify protein spots (n=6 patients per group). Western blotting was used for confirmation of six of the spot differences (n=6 patients per group). We found 14 proteins that were differentially expressed between NGT and GDM adipose tissue (≥1.4-fold, P<0.05). GDM was associated with an up-regulation of four proteins: collagen alpha-2(VI) chain (CO6A2 (COL6A2)), fibrinogen beta chain (FIBB (FGB)), lumican (LUM) and S100A9. On the other hand, a total of ten proteins were found to be down-regulated in adipose tissue from GDM women. These were alpha-1-antitrypsin (AIAT (SERPINA1)), annexin A5 (ANXA5), fatty acid-binding protein, adipocyte (FABP4), glutathione S-transferase P (GSTP (GSTP1)), heat-shock protein beta-1 (HSP27 (HSPB1)), lactate dehydrogenase B chain (LDHB), perilipin-1 (PLIN1), peroxiredoxin-6 (PRX6 (PRDX6)), selenium-binding protein 1 (SBP1) and vinculin (VINC (VCL)). In conclusion, proteomic analysis of omental fat reveals differential expression of several proteins in GDM patients and NGT pregnant women. This study revealed differences in expression of proteins that are involved in inflammation, lipid and glucose metabolism and oxidative stress and added further evidence to support the role of visceral adiposity in the pathogenesis of GDM.

Open access

A Tsuchiya, T Kanno and T Nishizaki

Insulin stimulated translocation of the glucose transporter GLUT4 from the cytosol to the plasma membrane in a concentration (1 nM–1 μM)-dependent manner and increased glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Insulin-induced GLUT4 translocation to the cell surface was prevented by the phosphoinositide 3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor wortmannin, the 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) inhibitor BX912 or the Akt1/2 inhibitor MK2206, and by knocking-down PI3K, PDK1 or Akt1/2. Insulin increased phosphorylation of Akt1/2 at Thr308/309 and Ser473/474, to activate Akt1/2, in the adipocytes. Insulin-induced phosphorylation of Akt1/2 was suppressed by wortmannin and knocking-down PI3K, while no significant inhibition of the phosphorylation was obtained with BX912 or knocking-down PDK1. In the cell-free Akt assay, PI3K phosphorylated Akt1 both at Thr308 and Ser473 and Akt2 at Ser474 alone. In contrast, PDK1 phosphorylates Akt1 at Thr308 and Akt2 at Thr309. The results of this study indicate that PI3K activates Akt1, independently of PDK1, and Akt2 by cooperating with PDK1 in the insulin signal transduction pathway linked to GLUT4 translocation.

Restricted access

K. Vikman, J. Isgaard and S. Edén


The effects of hypophysectomy and hormonal replacement therapy on insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) mRNA in rat adipose tissue and adipocytes were studied. The effects of GH and IGF-I in vitro on IGF-I mRNA and IGF-I production were also studied in cultured rat adipocytes. Male rats were hypophysectomized at about 50 days of age and given replacement therapy with cortisol (400 μg/kg per day) and thyroxine (10 μg/kg per day). GH was given as a single i.v. or s.c. injection and also as a continuous s.c. infusion for 6 days. Epididymal fat pads were excised and used either for isolation of adipocytes or for determination of IGF-I mRNA in adipose tissue. A solution hybridization assay was used. The IGF-I mRNA content of adipocytes was analysed either immediately after isolation or after short-term (2–3 days) culture with or without GH or IGF-I. Hypophysectomy resulted in a marked decrease in IGF-I mRNA in both tissue and cells. Replacement therapy (in vivo) with cortisol and thyroxine alone had no effect, whereas additional treatment with GH caused a dose-dependent increase in IGF-I mRNA. IGF-I mRNA was also increased after a continuous s.c. infusion of GH. A single i.v. injection of GH (100 μg) resulted in an increase in IGF-I mRNA after approximately 2 h, with maximal levels around 6 h after the injection. In cultured adipocytes, addition of GH to the culture medium increased IGF-I mRNA in a dose-dependent manner and a marked increase was observed with a concentration of GH of 1 ng/ml. Addition of IGF-I (100 ng/ml) had no effect. The increase in IGF-I mRNA after addition of GH (100 ng/ml) was detectable after 3 h. The concentration of IGF-I in the culture medium was increased 24 h after the addition of GH. These results demonstrate that GH induces IGF-I mRNA in both adipose tissue and isolated fully differentiated adipocytes and that this increase in IGF-I mRNA results in increased IGF-I production.

Journal of Endocrinology (1991) 131, 139–145