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Shaodong Guo

Insulin resistance is a major underlying mechanism responsible for the ‘metabolic syndrome’, which is also known as insulin resistance syndrome. The incidence of metabolic syndrome is increasing at an alarming rate, becoming a major public and clinical problem worldwide. Metabolic syndrome is represented by a group of interrelated disorders, including obesity, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. It is also a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and increased morbidity and mortality. Animal studies have demonstrated that insulin and its signaling cascade normally control cell growth, metabolism, and survival through the activation of MAPKs and activation of phosphatidylinositide-3-kinase (PI3K), in which the activation of PI3K associated with insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1) and IRS2 and subsequent Akt→Foxo1 phosphorylation cascade has a central role in the control of nutrient homeostasis and organ survival. The inactivation of Akt and activation of Foxo1, through the suppression IRS1 and IRS2 in different organs following hyperinsulinemia, metabolic inflammation, and overnutrition, may act as the underlying mechanisms for metabolic syndrome in humans. Targeting the IRS→Akt→Foxo1 signaling cascade will probably provide a strategy for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and its complications. This review discusses the basis of insulin signaling, insulin resistance in different mouse models, and how a deficiency of insulin signaling components in different organs contributes to the features of metabolic syndrome. Emphasis is placed on the role of IRS1, IRS2, and associated signaling pathways that are coupled to Akt and the forkhead/winged helix transcription factor Foxo1.

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Cathy A Guo and Shaodong Guo

The heart is an insulin-dependent and energy-consuming organ in which insulin and nutritional signaling integrates to the regulation of cardiac metabolism, growth and survival. Heart failure is highly associated with insulin resistance, and heart failure patients suffer from the cardiac energy deficiency and structural and functional dysfunction. Chronic pathological conditions, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, involve various mechanisms in promoting heart failure by remodeling metabolic pathways, modulating cardiac energetics and impairing cardiac contractility. Recent studies demonstrated that insulin receptor substrates 1 and 2 (IRS-1,-2) are major mediators of both insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) signaling responsible for myocardial energetics, structure, function and organismal survival. Importantly, the insulin receptor substrates (IRS) play an important role in the activation of the phosphatidylinositide-3-dependent kinase (PI-3K) that controls Akt and Foxo1 signaling cascade, regulating the mitochondrial function, cardiac energy metabolism and the renin–angiotensin system. Dysregulation of this branch in signaling cascades by insulin resistance in the heart through the endocrine system promotes heart failure, providing a novel mechanism for diabetic cardiomyopathy. Therefore, targeting this branch of IRS→PI-3K→Foxo1 signaling cascade and associated pathways may provide a fundamental strategy for the therapeutic and nutritional development in control of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. In this review, we focus on insulin signaling and resistance in the heart and the role energetics play in cardiac metabolism, structure and function.

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Wanbao Yang, Hui Yan, Quan Pan, James Zheng Shen, Fenghua Zhou, Chaodong Wu, Yuxiang Sun and Shaodong Guo

Glucagon promotes hepatic glucose production maintaining glucose homeostasis in the fasting state. Glucagon maintains at high level in both diabetic animals and human, contributing to hyperglycemia. Mitochondria, a major place for glucose oxidation, are dysfunctional in diabetic condition. However, whether hepatic mitochondrial function can be affected by glucagon remains unknown. Recently, we reported that FOXO1 is an important mediator in glucagon signaling in control of glucose homeostasis. In this study, we further assessed the role of FOXO1 in the action of glucagon in the regulation of hepatic mitochondrial function. We found that glucagon decreased the heme production in a FOXO1-dependent manner, suppressed heme-dependent complex III (UQCRC1) and complex IV (MT-CO1) and inhibited hepatic mitochondrial function. However, the suppression of mitochondrial function by glucagon was largely rescued by deleting the Foxo1 gene in hepatocytes. Glucagon tends to reduce hepatic mitochondrial biogenesis by attenuating the expression of NRF1, TFAM and MFN2, which is mediated by FOXO1. In db/db mice, we found that hepatic mitochondrial function was suppressed and expression levels of UQCRC1, MT-CO1, NRF1 and TFAM were downregulated in the liver. These findings suggest that hepatic mitochondrial function can be impaired when hyperglucagonemia occurs in the patients with diabetes mellitus, resulting in organ failure.

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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.