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Jay W Porter, Joe L Rowles III, Justin A Fletcher, Terese M Zidon, Nathan C Winn, Leighton T McCabe, Young-Min Park, James W Perfield II, John P Thyfault, R Scott Rector, Jaume Padilla and Victoria J Vieira-Potter

Exercise enhances insulin sensitivity; it also improves adipocyte metabolism and reduces adipose tissue inflammation through poorly defined mechanisms. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a pleiotropic hormone-like protein whose insulin-sensitizing properties are predominantly mediated via receptor signaling in adipose tissue (AT). Recently, FGF21 has also been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties. Meanwhile, an association between exercise and increased circulating FGF21 levels has been reported in some, but not all studies. Thus, the role that FGF21 plays in mediating the positive metabolic effects of exercise in AT are unclear. In this study, FGF21-knockout (KO) mice were used to directly assess the role of FGF21 in mediating the metabolic and anti-inflammatory effects of exercise on white AT (WAT) and brown AT (BAT). Male FGF21KO and wild-type mice were provided running wheels or remained sedentary for 8 weeks (n = 9–15/group) and compared for adiposity, insulin sensitivity (i.e., HOMA-IR, Adipo-IR) and AT inflammation and metabolic function (e.g., mitochondrial enzyme activity, subunit content). Adiposity and Adipo-IR were increased in FGF21KO mice and decreased by EX. The BAT of FGF21KO animals had reduced mitochondrial content and decreased relative mass, both normalized by EX. WAT and BAT inflammation was elevated in FGF21KO mice, reduced in both genotypes by EX. EX increased WAT Pgc1alpha gene expression, citrate synthase activity, COX I content and total AMPK content in WT but not FGF21KO mice. Collectively, these findings reveal a previously unappreciated anti-inflammatory role for FGF21 in WAT and BAT, but do not support that FGF21 is necessary for EX-mediated anti-inflammatory effects.

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Stephanie L Clookey, Rebecca J Welly, Terese M Zidon, Michelle L Gastecki, Makenzie L Woodford, Zachary I Grunewald, Nathan C Winn, Dusti Eaton, Natalia G Karasseva, Harold S Sacks, Jaume Padilla and Victoria J Vieira-Potter

Premenopausal females are protected against adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance, until loss of ovarian hormone production (e.g., menopause). There is some evidence that females have greater brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenic capacity. Because BAT mass correlates inversely with insulin resistance, we hypothesized that increased uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression contributes to the superior metabolic health of females. Given that UCP1 transiently increases in BAT following ovariectomy (OVX), we hypothesized that UCP1 may ‘buffer’ OVX-mediated metabolic dysfunction. Accordingly, female UCP1-knockout (KO) and WT mice received OVX or sham (SHM) surgeries at 12 weeks of age creating four groups (n = 10/group), which were followed for 14 weeks and compared for body weight and adiposity, food intake, energy expenditure and spontaneous physical activity (metabolic chambers), insulin resistance (HOMA-IR, ADIPO-IR and glucose tolerance testing) and adipose tissue phenotype (histology, gene and protein expression). Two-way ANOVA was used to assess the main effects of genotype (G), OVX treatment (O) and genotype by treatment (GxO) interactions, which were considered significant when P ≤ 0.05. UCP1KO mice experienced a more adverse metabolic response to OVX than WT. Whereas OVX-induced weight gain was not synergistically greater for KO compared to WT (GxO, NS), OVX-induced insulin resistance was significantly exacerbated in KO compared to WT (GxO for HOMA-IR, P < 0.05). These results suggest UCP1 is protective against metabolic dysfunction associated with loss of ovarian hormones and support the need for more research into therapeutics to selectively target UCP1 for prevention and treatment of metabolic dysfunction following ovarian hormone loss.