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Ricardo J Samms, Michelle Murphy, Maxine J Fowler, Scott Cooper, Paul Emmerson, Tamer Coskun, Andrew C Adams, Alexei Kharitonenkov, Francis J P Ebling and Kostas Tsintzas

The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms by which fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) affects hepatic integration of carbohydrate and fat metabolism in Siberian hamsters, a natural model of adiposity. Twelve aged matched adult male Siberian hamsters maintained in their long-day fat state since birth were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups and were continuously infused with either vehicle (saline; n=6) or recombinant human FGF21 protein (1 mg/kg per day; n=6) for 14 days. FGF21 administration caused a 40% suppression (P<0.05) of hepatic pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC), the rate-limiting step in glucose oxidation, a 34% decrease (P<0.05) in hepatic acetylcarnitine accumulation, an index of reduced PDC flux, a 35% increase (P<0.05) in long-chain acylcarnitine content (an index of flux through β-oxidation) and a 47% reduction (P<0.05) in hepatic lipid content. These effects were underpinned by increased protein abundance of PD kinase-4 (PDK4, a negative regulator of PDC), the phosphorylated (inhibited) form of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC, a negative regulator of delivery of fatty acids into the mitochondria) and the transcriptional co-regulators of energy metabolism peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma co-activator alpha (PGC1α) and sirtuin-1. These findings provide novel mechanistic basis to support the notion that FGF21 exerts profound metabolic benefits in the liver by modulating nutrient flux through both carbohydrate (mediated by a PDK4-mediated suppression of PDC activity) and fat (mediated by deactivation of ACC) metabolism, and therefore may be an attractive target for protection from increased hepatic lipid content and insulin resistance that frequently accompany obesity and diabetes.

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Perry Barrett, Elena Ivanova, E Scott Graham, Alexander W Ross, Dana Wilson, Helene Plé, Julian G Mercer, Francis J Ebling, Sandrine Schuhler, Sandrine M Dupré, Andrew Loudon and Peter J Morgan

Tanycytes in the ependymal layer of the third ventricle act both as a barrier and a communication gateway between the cerebrospinal fluid, brain and portal blood supply to the pituitary gland. However, the range, importance and mechanisms involved in the function of tanycytes remain to be explored. In this study, we have utilized a photoperiodic animal to examine the expression of three unrelated gene sequences in relation to photoperiod-induced changes in seasonal physiology and behaviour. We demonstrate that cellular retinoic acid-binding protein 1 (CRBP1), a retinoic acid transport protein, GPR50, an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor and nestin, an intermediate filament protein, are down-regulated in short-day photoperiods. The distribution of the three sequences is very similar, with expression located in cells with tanycyte morphology in the region of the ependymal layer where tanycytes are located. Furthermore, CRBP1 expression in the ependymal layer is shown to be independent of a circadian clock and altered testosterone levels associated with testicular regression in short photo-period. Pinealectomy of Siberian hamsters demonstrates CRBP1 expression is likely to be dependent on melatonin output from the pineal gland. This provides evidence that tanycytes are seasonally responsive cells and are likely to be an important part of the mechanism to facilitate seasonal physiology and behaviour in the Siberian hamster.

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Perry Barrett, Elena Ivanova, E Scott Graham, Alexander W Ross, Dana Wilson, Helene Plé, Julian G Mercer, Francis J Ebling, Sandrine Schuhler, Sandrine M Dupré, Andrew Loudon and Peter J Morgan