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Elena Maneschi, Linda Vignozzi, Annamaria Morelli, Tommaso Mello, Sandra Filippi, Ilaria Cellai, Paolo Comeglio, Erica Sarchielli, Alessandra Calcagno, Benedetta Mazzanti, Roberto Vettor, Gabriella Barbara Vannelli, Luciano Adorini, and Mario Maggi

Insulin resistance is the putative key underlying mechanism linking adipose tissue (AT) dysfunction with liver inflammation and steatosis in metabolic syndrome (MetS). We have recently demonstrated that the selective farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) ameliorates insulin resistance and the metabolic profile with a marked reduction in the amount of visceral AT (VAT) in a high-fat diet (HFD)-induced rabbit model of MetS. These effects were mediated by the activation of FXR, since treatment with the selective TGR5 agonist INT-777 was not able to ameliorate the metabolic parameters evaluated. Herein, we report the effects of in vivo OCA dosing on the liver, the VAT, and the adipogenic capacity of VAT preadipocytes (rPADs) isolated from rabbits on a HFD compared with those on a control diet. VAT and liver were studied by immunohistochemistry, Western blot analysis, and RT-PCR. rPADs were exposed to a differentiating mixture to evaluate adipogenesis. Adipocyte size, hypoxia, and the expression of perilipin and cytosolic insulin-regulated glucose transporter GLUT4 (SLC2A4) were significantly increased in VAT isolated from the HFD rabbits, and normalized by OCA. The expression of steatosis and inflammation markers was increased in the liver of the HFD rabbits and normalized by OCA. rPADs isolated from the HFD rabbits were less sensitive to insulin, as demonstrated by the decreased insulin-induced glucose uptake, triglyceride synthesis, and adipogenic capacity, as well as by the impaired fusion of lipid droplets. OCA treatment preserved all the aforementioned metabolic functions. In conclusion, OCA dosing in a MetS rabbit model ameliorates liver and VAT functions. This could reflect the ability of OCA to restore insulin sensitivity in AT unable to finalize its storage function, counteracting MetS-induced metabolic alterations and pathological AT deposition.

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Elena Maneschi, Annamaria Morelli, Sandra Filippi, Ilaria Cellai, Paolo Comeglio, Benedetta Mazzanti, Tommaso Mello, Alessandra Calcagno, Erica Sarchielli, Linda Vignozzi, Farid Saad, Roberto Vettor, Gabriella B Vannelli, and Mario Maggi

We recently demonstrated that testosterone dosing ameliorated the metabolic profile and reduced visceral adipose tissue (VAT) in a high-fat diet (HFD)-induced rabbit model of metabolic syndrome (MetS). We studied the effects of HFD and in vivo testosterone dosing on VAT function and the adipogenic capacity of rabbit preadipocytes isolated from VAT of regular diet (RD), HFD, and testosterone-treated HFD rabbits. VAT was studied by immunohistochemistry, western blot, and RT-PCR. Isolated rPADs were exposed to adipocyte differentiating mixture (DIM) to evaluate adipogenic potential. Adipocyte size was significantly increased in HFD VAT compared with RD, indicating adipocyte dysfunction, which was normalized by testosterone dosing. Accordingly, perilipin, an anti-lipolytic protein, was significantly increased in HFD VAT, when compared with other groups. HFD VAT was hypoxic, while testosterone dosing normalized VAT oxygenation. In VAT, androgen receptor expression was positively associated with mRNA expression of GLUT4 (SLC2A4) (insulin-regulated glucose transporter) and STAMP2 (STEAP4) (androgen-dependent gene required for insulin signaling). In testosterone-treated HFD VAT, STAMP2 mRNA was significantly increased when compared with the other groups. Moreover, GLUT4 membrane translocation was significantly reduced in HFD VAT, compared with RD, and increased by testosterone. In DIM-exposed preadipocytes from HFD, triglyceride accumulation, adipocyte-specific genes, insulin-stimulated triglyceride synthesis, glucose uptake, and GLUT4 membrane translocation were reduced compared with preadipocytes from RD and normalized by in vivo testosterone dosing. In conclusion, testosterone dosing in a MetS animal model positively affects VAT functions. This could reflect the ability of testosterone in restoring insulin sensitivity in VAT, thus counteracting metabolic alterations.