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V Ott, M Fasshauer, A Dalski, HH Klein, and J Klein

Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) plays an important role in regulating neuronal growth. Recently, central anorexigenic effects of this cytokine have been characterized. However, peripheral effects on tissues that actively contribute to the regulation of energy homeostasis have not been described. Here, we report direct potent and selective effects of CNTF on growth factor and metabolic signalling intermediates in mouse brown adipocytes. CNTF stimulates STAT3, MAP kinase, Akt, and p70 S6 kinase. We find that, next to mediating Akt and p70 S6 kinase activation, both phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and protein kinase C are separately acting, main intermediates for inducing mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase activation. On a functional level, CNTF enhances beta3-adrenergic induction of uncoupling protein-1. Thus, these results demonstrate direct effects of CNTF on adipose tissue signalling and metabolism and suggest a novel role for this cytokine in the peripheral regulation of energy homeostasis.

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T Grimmsmann, K Levin, MM Meyer, H Beck-Nielsen, and HH Klein

We explored whether the delay that occurs between a rise in plasma insulin and the increase of glucose disposal occurs before, at, or downstream of steps that are believed to be part of the insulin signaling cascade. Skeletal muscle biopsies were obtained from 16 nondiabetic subjects before, and 20 and 180 min after plasma insulin levels had been augmented in euglycemic hyperinsulinemic glucose clamps. Although plasma insulin had reached 98% of its final concentration within 10 min, insulin receptor kinase (IRK) activity, p85 associated with insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1), IRS-1-associated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activity, and Thr(308)-protein kinase B (PKB) phosphorylation in the muscle biopsies at 20 min had reached only 60, 48, 34 and 47% respectively of those at 180 min. This suggests a delay before the level of IRK and little or no delay between IRK and PKB activation. The observation that glycogen synthase activity and glucose disposal at 20 min had both only reached 25% of the respective values at 180 min suggests an additional delay downstream of the investigated signaling steps.

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D Kraus, M Fasshauer, V Ott, B Meier, M Jost, HH Klein, and J Klein

Leptin is an important adipocytokine whose main regulative effects on energy metabolism are exerted via activation of signalling pathways in the central nervous system. Another important regulator of energy homeostasis is insulin. The role of direct autocrine leptin effects on adipose tissue and crosstalk with insulin, in particular in the thermogenically active brown adipose tissue, remains unclear. In the present study, we have investigated leptin secretion and interaction with insulin in highly insulin-responsive immortalised mouse brown adipocytes. Leptin was secreted in a differentiation-dependent manner, and acute leptin treatment of mature adipocytes dose- and time-dependently stimulated phosphorylation of STAT3 and MAP kinase. Interestingly, acute pretreatment of fully differentiated brown adipocytes with leptin (100 nM) significantly diminished insulin-induced glucose uptake by approximately 25%. This inhibitory effect was time-dependent and maximal after 60 min of leptin prestimulation. Furthermore, it correlated with a 35% reduction in insulin-stimulated insulin receptor kinase activity after acute leptin pretreatment. Insulin-induced insulin receptor substrate-1 tyrosine phosphorylation and binding to the regulatory subunit p85 of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) were diminished by approximately 60% and 40%, respectively. Taken together, this study has demonstrated strong differentiation-dependent leptin secretion in brown adipocytes and PI 3-kinase-mediated negative autocrine effects of this hormone on insulin action. Direct peripheral leptin-insulin crosstalk may play an important role in the regulation of energy homeostasis.

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HH Klein, R Muller, M Drenckhan, M Schutt, B Batge, and HL Fehm

Recent studies suggest that high glucose concentrations impair insulin receptor phosphorylation and kinase activation in certain cell models. To examine whether such an effect of glucose can also be demonstrated in vivo, insulin receptor kinase activation was studied in erythrocytes from 11 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM), before and after reduction of hyperglycemia (from 14.6+/-1.6 to 6.6+/-0.5 mmol/l fasting plasma glucose within 8.6+/-0.6 days). For the measurement of receptor kinase activation, cells were incubated with insulin (0-400 nmol/l), solubilized and insulin receptors immobilized to microwells coated with anti-insulin receptor antibody. Kinase activity towards insulin receptor substrate-1 and insulin binding were then measured in these wells. Kinase activities (expressed as amol phosphate transferred per min and per fmol insulin binding activity) were similar before (2.4+/-0.4 and 32.2+/-2.0 amol/min per fmol with 0 and 400 nmol/l insulin, respectively) and after improvement of metabolic control (2.4+/-0.5 and 32.0+/-2.3 amol/min per fmol with 0 and 400 nmol/l insulin, respectively). Moreover, activities were also similar in 22 hyperglycemic patients with NIDDM (2.1+/-0.3 and 35.1+/-1.4 amol/min per fmol with 0 and 400 nmol/l insulin, respectively) compared with those in 21 non-diabetic control individuals (2.1+/-0.3 and 34.2+/-1.2 amol/min per fmol with 0 and 400 nmol/l insulin, respectively). We conclude that insulin activation of erythrocyte insulin receptor kinase is not impaired in NIDDM and is not influenced by hyperglycemia.