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Tianxue Zhao, Qian Li, Qianyun Mao, Kaida Mu, and Chen Wang

Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) interacts with its adaptor protein NOS1AP through its PZD domain in the neurons. Previously, we had reported that NOS1AP enhanced hepatic insulin sensitivity through its PZD-binding domain, which suggested that nNOS might mediate the effect of NOS1AP. This study aimed to examine the role and underlying mechanisms of nNOS in regulating hepatic insulin sensitivity. nNOS co-localized with NOS1AP in mouse liver. The overexpression of NOS1AP in mouse liver decreased the level of phosphorylated nNOS (p-nNOS (Ser1417)), the active form of nNOS. Conversely, the liver-specific deletion of NOS1AP increased the level of p-nNOS (Ser1417). The overexpression of nNOS in the liver of high-fat diet-induced obese mice exacerbated glucose intolerance, enhanced intrahepatic lipid accumulation, decreased glycogen storage, and blunted insulin-induced phosphorylation of IRβ and Akt in the liver. Similarly, nNOS overexpression increased triglyceride production, decreased glucose utilization, and downregulated insulin-induced expression of p-IRβ, p-Akt, and p-GSK3β in the HepG2 cells. In contrast, treatment with Nω-propyl-L-arginine (L-NPA), a selective nNOS inhibitor, improved glucose tolerance and upregulated insulin-induced phosphorylation of IRβ and Akt in the liver of ob/ob mice. Furthermore, overexpression of nNOS increased p38MAPK phosphorylation in the HepG2 cells. In contrast, inhibition of p38MAPK with SB203580 significantly reversed the nNOS-induced inhibition of insulin signaling activity (all P < 0.05). This indicated that hepatic nNOS inhibited the insulin-signaling pathway through the activation of p38MAPK. These findings suggest that nNOS is involved in the development of hepatic insulin resistance and that nNOS might be a potential therapeutic target for diabetes.

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Xinrong Zhou, Bangguo Qian, Ning Ji, Conghui Lui, Zhiyuan Liu, Bing Li, Huarong Zhou, and Caifeng Yan

Gastric bypass surgery produces clear antidiabetic effects in a substantial proportion of morbidly obese patients. In view of the recent trend away from ‘bariatric’ surgery and toward ‘metabolic’ surgery, it is important to elucidate the enhancing effect of bypass surgery on pancreatic β-cell mass, which is related to diabetes remission in non-obese patients. We investigated the effects of gastric bypass surgery on glycemic control and other pancreatic changes in a spontaneous non-obese type 2 diabetes Goto-Kakizaki rat model. Significant improvements in postprandial hyperglycemia and plasma c-peptide level were observed when glucose was administered orally post-surgery. Other important events observed after surgery were enhanced first phase insulin secretion in a in site pancreatic perfusion experiment, pancreatic hyperplasia, improved islet structure (revealed by immunohistochemical analysis), striking increase in β-cell mass, slight increase in ratio of β-cell area to total pancreas area, and increased number of small islets closely related to exocrine ducts. No notable changes were observed in ratio of β-cell to non-β endocrine cell area, β-cell apoptosis, or β-cell proliferation. These findings demonstrate that gastric bypass surgery in this rat model increases endocrine cells and pancreatic hyperplasia, and reflect the important role of the gastrointestinal system in regulation of metabolism.

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You-Hua Xu, Chen-Lin Gao, Heng-Li Guo, Wen-Qian Zhang, Wei Huang, Shan-Shan Tang, Wen-Jun Gan, Yong Xu, Hua Zhou, and Quan Zhu

Endotoxemia has been recognized to be closely accompanied with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and is responsible for many diabetic complications. Recent study suggests the potential role of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) from microbiota metabolite, on T2DM. Gut-leak is a key event in diabetic-endotoxemia. To investigate if butyrate could ameliorate diabetic-endotoxemia, both in vivo and in vitro experiments were carried out in the present study. The effect of butyrate supplementation on blood HbA1c and inflammatory cytokines were determined in db/db mice; gut barrier integrity and expression of tight junction proteins were investigated both in vivo and in vitro. Oral butyrate administration significantly decreased blood HbA1c, inflammatory cytokines and LPS in db/db mice; inflammatory cell infiltration was reduced, and gut integrity and intercellular adhesion molecules were increased as detected by HE staining, immunohistochemistry and Western blot. By gut microbiota assay, ratio of Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes for gut microbiota was reduced by butyrate. In Caco-2 cells, butyrate significantly promoted cell proliferation, decreased inflammatory cytokines’ secretion, enhanced cell anti-oxidative stress ability and preserved the epithelial monocellular integrity, which was damaged by LPS. The present findings demonstrated that butyrate supplementation could ameliorate diabetic-endotoxemia in db/db mice via restoring composition of gut microbiota and preserving gut epithelial barrier integrity.

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Jiashu Yu, Zhongyan Shan, Wei Chong, Jinyuan Mao, Yuxiu Geng, Caixia Zhang, Qian Xing, Weiwei Wang, Ningna Li, Chenling Fan, Hong Wang, Hongmei Zhang, and Weiping Teng

Acute and excessive iodine supplementation leads to iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity. Excessive oxidative stress has been suggested to be one of the underlying mechanisms in the development of thyroid cytotoxicity. The aim of this study was to investigate whether vitamin E (VE), an important antioxidant, could ameliorate iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity. A goiter was induced in rats by feeding a low-iodine (LI) diet for 12 weeks. Involution of hyperplasia was obtained by administering a twofold physiological dose of iodine in feeding water with/without the supplementation of 25-, 50-, or 100-fold physiological dose of VE in the LI diet for 4 weeks. In iodine-supplemented rats, thyroid epithelial cell ultrastructure injuries remained and were more severe. Relative weights of iodine-induced involuting glands were significantly reduced compared with the goiter, but still higher than control. Immunohistochemistry indicated that the expression of 4-hydroxynonenal, 8-hydroxyguanine, peroxiredoxin 5, and CD68 in thyroid increased (P<0.01), whereas thioredoxin reductase 1 decreased (P<0.01). VE supplementation attenuated thyroid cytotoxicity induced by iodine. A 50-fold VE dose was optimal in attenuating twofold iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity. However, VE supplementation did not reduce the weight or relative weight of the iodine-induced involuting gland. These results show that excess iodine leads to thyroid damage and VE supplementation can partly ameliorate iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity.

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Zhe-Zhen Liao, Xiao-Yan Qi, Ya-Di Wang, Jiao-Yang Li, Qian-Qian Gu, Can Hu, Yin Hu, Heng Sun, Li Ran, Jing Yang, Jiang-Hua Liu, and Xin-Hua Xiao

Remodeling of energy-storing white fat into energy-consuming beige fat has led to a promising new approach to alleviate adiposity. Several studies have shown adipokines can induce white adipose tissue (WAT) beiging through autocrine or paracrine actions. Betatrophin, a novel adipokine, has been linked to energy expenditure and lipolysis but not clearly clarified. Here, we using high-fat diet-induced obesity to determine how betatrophin modulate beiging and adiposity. We found that betatrophin-knockdown mice displayed less white fat mass and decreased plasma TG and NEFA levels. Consistently, inhibition of betatrophin leads to the phenotype change of adipocytes characterized by increased mitochondria contents, beige adipocytes and mitochondria biogenesis-specific markers both in vivo and in vitro. Of note, blocking AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway is able to abolish enhanced beige-like characteristics in betatrophin-knockdown adipocytes. Collectively, downregulation of betatrophin induces beiging in white adipocytes through activation of AMPK signaling pathway. These processes suggest betatrophin as a latent therapeutic target for obesity.

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Jing Zhou, Honggui Li, Yuli Cai, Linqiang Ma, Destiny Matthews, Bangchao Lu, Bilian Zhu, Yanming Chen, Xiaoxian Qian, Xiaoqiu Xiao, Qifu Li, Shaodong Guo, Yuqing Huo, Liang Zhao, Yanan Tian, Qingsheng Li, and Chaodong Wu

Adenosine 2A receptor (A2AR) exerts a protective role in obesity-related non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Here, we examined whether A2AR protects against non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In C57BL/6J mice, feeding a methionine- and choline-deficient diet (MCD) resulted in significant weight loss, overt hepatic steatosis, and massive aggregation of macrophages in the liver compared with mice fed a chow diet. MCD feeding also significantly increased the numbers of A2AR-positive macrophages/Kupffer cells in liver sections although decreasing A2AR amount in liver lysates compared with chow diet feeding. Next, MCD-induced NASH phenotype was examined in A2AR-disrupted mice and control mice. Upon MCD feeding, A2AR-disruptd mice and control mice displayed comparable decreases in body weight and fat mass. However, MCD-fed A2AR-disrupted mice revealed greater liver weight and increased severity of hepatic steatosis compared with MCD-fed control mice. Moreover, A2AR-disupted mice displayed increased severity of MCD-induced liver inflammation, indicated by massive aggregation of macrophages and increased phosphorylation states of Jun-N terminal kinase (JNK) p46 and nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) p65 and mRNA levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1 beta, and interleukin-6. In vitro, incubation with MCD-mimicking media increased lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced phosphorylation states of JNK p46 and/or NFκB p65 and cytokine mRNAs in control macrophages and RAW264.7 cells, but not primary hepatocytes. Additionally, MCD-mimicking media significantly increased lipopolysaccharide-induced phosphorylation states of p38 and NFκB p65 in A2AR-deficient macrophages, but insignificantly decreased lipopolysaccharide-induced phosphorylation states of JNK p46 and NFκB p65 in A2AR-deficient hepatocytes. Collectively, these results suggest that A2AR disruption exacerbates MCD-induced NASH, which is attributable to, in large part, increased inflammatory responses in macrophages.

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Ya Pei, Honggui Li, Yuli Cai, Jing Zhou, Xianjun Luo, Linqiang Ma, Kelly McDaniel, Tianshu Zeng, Yanming Chen, Xiaoxian Qian, Yuqing Huo, Shannon Glaser, Fanyin Meng, Gianfranco Alpini, Lulu Chen, and Chaodong Wu

Adenosine 2A receptor (A2AR) exerts anti-inflammatory effects. However, the role of A2AR in obesity-associated adipose tissue inflammation remains to be elucidated. The present study examined the expression of A2AR in adipose tissue of mice with diet-induced obesity and determined the effect of A2AR disruption on the status of obesity-associated adipose tissue inflammation. WT C57BL/6J mice and A2AR-disrupted mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks to induce obesity and adipose tissue inflammation. In vitro, bone marrow-derived macrophages from A2AR-disrupted mice and WT control mice were treated with palmitate and examined for macrophage proinflammatory activation. Compared with that of low-fat diet (LFD)-fed WT mice, A2AR expression in adipose tissue of HFD-fed WT mice was increased significantly and was present predominantly in adipose tissue macrophages. The increase in adipose tissue A2AR expression in HFD-fed mice was accompanied with increased phosphorylation states of c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 p46 and nuclear factor kappa B p65 and mRNA levels of interleukin (Il)-1beta, Il6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha. In A2AR-disrupted mice, HFD feeding induced significant increases in adipose tissue inflammation, indicated by enhanced proinflammatory signaling and increased proinflammatory cytokine expression, and adipose tissue insulin resistance, indicated by a decrease in insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation relative to those in WT mice. Lastly, A2AR disruption enhanced palmitate-induced macrophage proinflammatory activation. Taken together, these results suggest that A2AR plays a protective role in obesity-associated adipose tissue inflammation, which is attributable to, in large part, A2AR suppression of macrophage proinflammatory activation.

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Jiali Liu, Yue Li, Xiaoyan Zhou, Xi Zhang, Hao Meng, Sanyuan Liu, Lei Zhang, Juntao He, Qian He, and Yan Geng

High-fat diet (HFD) not only induces insulin resistance in liver, but also causes autophagic imbalance and metabolic disorders, increases chronic inflammatory response and induces mitochondrial dysfunction. Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV) has recently emerged as an important regulator of glucose metabolism and skeletal muscle insulin action. Its activation has been involved in the improvement of hepatic and adipose insulin action. But the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. In the present study, we aimed to address the direct effects of CaMKIV in vivo and to evaluate the potential interaction of impaired insulin sensitivity and autophagic disorders in hepatic insulin resistance. Our results indicated obese mice receiving CaMKIV showed decreased blood glucose and serum insulin and improved insulin sensitivity as well as increased glucose tolerance compared with vehicle injection. Meanwhile, defective hepatic autophagy activity, impaired insulin signaling, increased inflammatory response and mitochondrial dysfunction in liver tissues which are induced by high-fat diet were also effectively alleviated by injection of CaMKIV. Consistent with these results, the addition of CaMKIV to the culture medium of BNL cl.2 hepatocytes markedly restored palmitate-induced hepatic insulin resistance and autophagic imbalance. These effects were nullified by blockade of cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB), indicating the causative role of CREB in action of CaMKIV. Our findings suggested that CaMKIV restores hepatic autophagic imbalance and improves impaired insulin sensitivity via phosphorylated CREB signaling pathway, which may offer novel opportunities for treatment of obesity and diabetes.