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Frida Fåk, Lennart Friis-Hansen, Björn Weström and Nils Wierup

The duration of breastfeeding has attracted much interest, as a prolonged period of breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of developing obesity. The mechanism behind the reduced risk is, however, poorly understood. The novel hormone ghrelin augments appetite, promotes body weight increase and increases adiposity. The majority of circulating ghrelin emanates from endocrine cells in the oxyntic mucosa of the stomach. In newborn humans and rodents, the number of ghrelin cells is low after birth until weaning, when the cell population is greatly expanded. To date, information about the influence of weaning perturbations on ghrelin cell development is scarce. Therefore, we studied the effect of delayed weaning on gastric ghrelin expression and plasma ghrelin concentration. To this end, special food separator cages were used to prevent the pups from eating solid food, forcing them to drink milk up to 21 days of age. Gastric ghrelin expression was examined by immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridisation, and plasma concentrations were assessed by RIA. Our data showed that gastric ghrelin expression and plasma ghrelin concentration are maintained at a lower level by delayed weaning. We also found that the relation between gastric ghrelin expression and body weight was altered by delayed weaning. Thus, control rats displayed a positive correlation between ghrelin expression and body weight, while no such correlation was evident in animals with delayed weaning. We conclude that delayed weaning exerts a negative influence on ghrelin expression, and that the onset of solid food intake may trigger normal ghrelin expression. Therefore, we suggest that ghrelin may constitute a hormonal link between the duration of breastfeeding and body weight development.

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Malin Fex, Nils Wierup, Marloes Dekker Nitert, Michael Ristow and Hindrik Mulder

β-Cell-specific gene targeting is a widely used tool when studying genes involved in β-cell function. For this purpose, several conditional β-cell knockouts have been generated using the rat insulin promoter 2-Cre recombinase (RIP2-Cre) mouse. However, it was recently observed that expression of Cre alone in β-cells may affect whole body glucose homeostasis. Therefore, we investigated glucose homeostasis, insulin secretion, and β-cell mass in our line of RIP2-Cre mice bred onto the C57BL/6J genetic background. We used 12- and 28-week-old female RIP2-Cre mice for analyses of insulin secretion in vitro, glucose homeostasis in vivo and β-cell mass. Our mouse line has been backcrossedfor14generationstoyieldanear100%pureC57BL/6J background. Wefound thatfastingplasmaglucoseand insulinlevels were similar in both genotypes. An i.v. glucose tolerance test revealed no differences in glucose clearance and insulin secretion between 12-week-old RIP2-Cre and WT mice. Moreover, insulin secretion in vitro in islets isolated from 28-week-old RIP2-Cre mice and controls was similar. In addition, β-cell mass was not different between the two genotypes at 28 weeks of age. In our experiments, we observed no differences in glucose tolerance, insulin secretion in vivo and in vitro, or in β-cell mass between the genotypes. As our RIP2-Cre mice are on a near 100% pure genetic background (C57BL/6J), we suggest that the perturbations in glucose homeostasis previously reported in RIP2-Cre mouse lines can be accounted for by differences in genetic background.

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Helena A Walz, Linda Härndahl, Nils Wierup, Emilia Zmuda-Trzebiatowska, Fredrik Svennelid, Vincent C Manganiello, Thorkil Ploug, Frank Sundler, Eva Degerman, Bo Ahrén and Lena Stenson Holst

Inadequate islet adaptation to insulin resistance leads to glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes. Here we investigate whether β-cell cAMP is crucial for islet adaptation and prevention of glucose intolerance in mice. Mice with a β-cell-specific, 2-fold overexpression of the cAMP-degrading enzyme phosphodiesterase 3B (RIP-PDE3B/2 mice) were metabolically challenged with a high-fat diet. We found that RIP-PDE3B/2 mice early and rapidly develop glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, as compared with wild-type littermates, after 2 months of high-fat feeding. This was evident from advanced fasting hyperinsulinemia and early development of hyper-glycemia, in spite of hyperinsulinemia, as well as impaired capacity of insulin to suppress plasma glucose in an insulin tolerance test. In vitro analyses of insulin-stimulated lipogenesis in adipocytes and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle did not reveal reduced insulin sensitivity in these tissues. Significant steatosis was noted in livers from high-fat-fed wild-type and RIP-PDE3B/2 mice and liver triacyl-glycerol content was 3-fold higher than in wild-type mice fed a control diet. Histochemical analysis revealed severe islet perturbations, such as centrally located α-cells and reduced immunostaining for insulin and GLUT2 in islets from RIP-PDE3B/2 mice. Additionally, in vitro experiments revealed that the insulin secretory response to glucagon-like peptide-1 stimulation was markedly reduced in islets from high-fat-fed RIP-PDE3B/2 mice. We conclude that accurate regulation of β-cell cAMP is necessary for adequate islet adaptation to a perturbed metabolic environment and protective for the development of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.