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Xiaofeng Ding, Yan Luo, Xing Zhang, Handong Zheng, Xin Yang, Xuexian Yang and Meilian Liu

Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) in white adipose tissue (WAT) promote WAT browning and assist in preventing the development of obesity. However, how ILC2 in adipose tissue is regulated remains largely unknown. Here, our study shows that ILC2s are present in brown adipose tissue (BAT) as well as subcutaneous and epididymal WAT (sWAT and eWAT). The fractions of ILC2s, natural killer T (NKT) cells and eosinophils in sWAT, eWAT and BAT are significantly decreased by high-fat-diet (HFD) feeding and leptin deficiency-induced obesity. Consistent with this, the adipose expression and circulating levels of IL-33, a key inducing cytokine of ILC2, are significantly downregulated by obesity. Furthermore, administration of IL-33 markedly increases the fraction of ILC2 and eosinophil as well as the expression of UCP1 and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine biosynthesis, in adipose tissue of HFD-fed mice. On the other hand, cold exposure induces the expression levels of IL-33 and UCP1 and the population of ILC2 and eosinophil in sWAT, and these promoting effects of cold stress are reversed by neutralization of IL-33 signaling in vivo. Moreover, the basal and cold-induced IL-33 and ILC2/eosinophil pathways are significantly suppressed by sympathetic denervation via local injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) in sWAT. Taken together, our data suggest that the ILC2/eosinophil axis in adipose tissue is regulated by sympathetic nervous system and obesity in IL-33-dependent manner, and IL-33-driven ILC2/eosinophil axis is implicated in the development of obesity.

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Jacob C Garza, Chung Sub Kim, Jing Liu, Wei Zhang and Xin-Yun Lu

Pharmacological and genetic studies have suggested that melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) signaling in the paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus (PVN) regulates appetite and energy balance. However, the specific role of MC4R signaling in PVN neurons in these processes remains to be further elucidated in normally developed animals. In the present study, we employed RNA interference to determine whether MC4R knockdown in the PVN modulates food intake and body weight in adult rats. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors encoding short hairpin RNAs targeting MC4R (AAV-shRNA-MC4R) were generated to induce MC4R knockdown in the PVN. By in situ hybridization, we detected a high-level expression of Dicer, a key enzyme required for shRNA-mediated gene silencing, along the entire rostrocaudal extent of the PVN. Bilateral injection of AAV-shRNA-MC4R vectors into the PVN of the adult rat resulted in significant and specific reduction of MC4R mRNA expression. Animals with MC4R knockdown exhibited an increase in food intake and excessive body weight gain when exposed to a high-fat diet. Our results provide evidence that AAV-mediated silencing of MC4R on PVN neurons promotes hyperphagia and obesity in response to the dietary challenge in the adult animal.

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Rachel Botchlett, Shih-Lung Woo, Mengyang Liu, Ya Pei, Xin Guo, Honggui Li and Chaodong Wu

Obesity is an ongoing pandemic and serves as a causal factor of a wide spectrum of metabolic diseases including diabetes, fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease. Much evidence has demonstrated that nutrient overload/overnutrition initiates or exacerbates inflammatory responses in tissues/organs involved in the regulation of systemic metabolic homeostasis. This obesity-associated inflammation is usually at a low-grade and viewed as metabolic inflammation. When it exists continuously, inflammation inappropriately alters metabolic pathways and impairs insulin signaling cascades in peripheral tissues/organs such as adipose tissue, the liver and skeletal muscles, resulting in local fat deposition and insulin resistance and systemic metabolic dysregulation. In addition, inflammatory mediators, e.g., proinflammatory cytokines, and excessive nutrients, e.g., glucose and fatty acids, act together to aggravate local insulin resistance and form a vicious cycle to further disturb the local metabolic pathways and exacerbate systemic metabolic dysregulation. Owing to the critical role of nutrient metabolism in controlling the initiation and progression of inflammation and insulin resistance, nutritional approaches have been implicated as effective tools for managing obesity and obesity-associated metabolic diseases. Based on the mounting evidence generated from both basic and clinical research, nutritional approaches are commonly used for suppressing inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity, and/or decreasing fat deposition. Consequently, the combined effects are responsible for improvement of systemic insulin sensitivity and metabolic homeostasis.

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Can Liu, Mian Zhang, Meng-yue Hu, Hai-fang Guo, Jia Li, Yun-li Yu, Shi Jin, Xin-ting Wang, Li Liu and Xiao-dong Liu

Panax ginseng is one of the most popular herbal remedies. Ginsenosides, major bioactive constituents in P. ginseng, have shown good antidiabetic action, but the precise mechanism was not fully understood. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) is considered to be an important incretin that can regulate glucose homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract after meals. The aim of this study was to investigate whether ginseng total saponins (GTS) exerts its antidiabetic effects via modulating GLP1 release. Ginsenoside Rb1 (Rb1), the most abundant constituent in GTS, was selected to further explore the underlying mechanisms in cultured NCI-H716 cells. Diabetic rats were developed by a combination of high-fat diet and low-dose streptozotocin injection. The diabetic rats orally received GTS (150 or 300 mg/kg) daily for 4 weeks. It was found that GTS treatment significantly ameliorated hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia, accompanied by a significant increase in glucose-induced GLP1 secretion and upregulation of proglucagon gene expression. Data from NCI-H716 cells showed that both GTS and Rb1 promoted GLP1 secretion. It was observed that Rb1 increased the ratio of intracellular ATP to ADP concentration and intracellular Ca2 + concentration. The metabolic inhibitor azide (3 mM), the KATP channel opener diazoxide (340 μM), and the Ca2 + channel blocker nifedipine (20 μM) significantly reversed Rb1-mediated GLP1 secretion. All these results drew a conclusion that ginsenosides stimulated GLP1 secretion both in vivo and in vitro. The antidiabetic effects of ginsenosides may be a result of enhanced GLP1 secretion.

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Chun Zeng, Xin Yi, Danny Zipris, Hongli Liu, Lin Zhang, Qiaoyun Zheng, Krishnamurthy Malathi, Ge Jin and Aimin Zhou

The cause of type 1 diabetes continues to be a focus of investigation. Studies have revealed that interferon α (IFNα) in pancreatic islets after viral infection or treatment with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), a mimic of viral infection, is associated with the onset of type 1 diabetes. However, how IFNα contributes to the onset of type 1 diabetes is obscure. In this study, we found that 2-5A-dependent RNase L (RNase L), an IFNα-inducible enzyme that functions in the antiviral and antiproliferative activities of IFN, played an important role in dsRNA-induced onset of type 1 diabetes. Using RNase L-deficient, rat insulin promoter-B7.1 transgenic mice, which are more vulnerable to harmful environmental factors such as viral infection, we demonstrated that deficiency of RNase L in mice resulted in a significant delay of diabetes onset induced by polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), a type of synthetic dsRNA, and streptozotocin, a drug which can artificially induce type 1-like diabetes in experimental animals. Immunohistochemical staining results indicated that the population of infiltrated CD8+T cells was remarkably reduced in the islets of RNase L-deficient mice, indicating that RNase L may contribute to type 1 diabetes onset through regulating immune responses. Furthermore, RNase L was responsible for the expression of certain proinflammatory genes in the pancreas under induced conditions. Our findings provide new insights into the molecular mechanism underlying β-cell destruction and may indicate novel therapeutic strategies for treatment and prevention of the disease based on the selective regulation and inhibition of RNase L.

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Shibin Ding, Ying Fan, Nana Zhao, Huiqin Yang, Xiaolei Ye, Dongliang He, Xin Jin, Jian Liu, Chong Tian, Hongyu Li, Shunqing Xu and Chenjiang Ying

Epidemiological findings on the association between bisphenol A (BPA, 2,2-bis-(4-hydroxyphenyl)propane) exposure and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are paradoxical. In animal studies, BPA has been shown to disrupt pancreatic function and blood glucose homeostasis even at a reference ‘safe’ level during perinatal period. In this study, we explored the effects of long-term paternal exposure to a ‘safe’ level of BPA on parents themselves and their offspring. Adult male genitor rats fed with either standard chow diet (STD) or high-fat diet (HFD) were treated respectively with either vehicle or BPA (50 μg/kg per day) for 35 weeks. The male rats treated with vehicle or BPA for 21 weeks were then used as sires, and the adult female rats were fed with STD during the gestation and lactation. Offspring rats were weaned on postnatal day 21 and fed with STD in later life. Metabolic parameters were recorded on the adult male rats and their adult offspring. BPA exposure disrupted glucose homeostasis and pancreatic function, and HFD aggravated these adverse effects. However, BPA exposure did not alter body weight, body fat percentage, or serum lipid. In addition, the paternal BPA exposure did not cause adverse reproductive consequence or metabolic disorder in the adult offspring. Our findings indicate that chronic exposure to a predicted ‘safe’ dose of BPA contributes to glucose metabolic disorders, and that HFD aggravates these adverse effects in paternal rats.

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Meng Guo, Yuna Li, Yan Wang, Zhenkun Li, Xiaohong Li, Peikun Zhao, Changlong Li, Jianyi Lv, Xin Liu, Xiaoyan Du and Zhenwen Chen

Recent studies raise the possibility that eukaryotic translation elongation factor 1 alpha (eEF1A) may play a role in metabolism. One isoform, eEF1A2, is specifically expressed in skeletal muscle, heart and brain. It regulates translation elongation and signal transduction. Nonetheless, eEF1A2’s function in skeletal muscle glucose metabolism remains unclear. In the present study, suppression subtractive hybridisation showed a decrease in Eef1a2 transcripts in the skeletal muscle of diabetic Mongolian gerbils. This was confirmed at mRNA and protein levels in hyperglycaemic gerbils, and in db/db and high-fat diet-fed mice. Further, this downregulation was independent of Eef1a2 promoter methylation. Interestingly, adeno-associated virus-mediated eEF1A2 overexpression in skeletal muscle aggravated fasting hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and glucose intolerance in male diabetic gerbils but not in female gerbil models. The overexpression of eEF1A2 in skeletal muscle also resulted in promoted serum glucose levels and insulin resistance in male db/db mice. Up- and downregulation of eEF1A2 by lentiviral vector transfection confirmed its inhibitory effect on insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and signalling transduction in C2C12 myotubes with palmitate (PA)-induced insulin resistance. Furthermore, eEF1A2 bound PKCβ and increased its activation in the cytoplasm, whereas suppression of PKCβ by an inhibitor attenuated eEF1A2-mediated impairment of insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant myotubes. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was elevated by eEF1A2, whereas suppression of ER stress or JNK partially restored insulin sensitivity in PA-treated myotubes. Additionally, eEF1A2 inhibited lipogenesis and lipid utilisation in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle. Collectively, we demonstrated that eEF1A2 exacerbates insulin resistance in male murine skeletal muscle via PKCβ and ER stress.

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Te Du, Liu Yang, Xu Xu, Xiaofan Shi, Xin Xu, Jian Lu, Jianlu Lv, Xi Huang, Jing Chen, Heyao Wang, Jiming Ye, Lihong Hu and Xu Shen

Vincamine, a monoterpenoid indole alkaloid extracted from the Madagascar periwinkle, is clinically used for the treatment of cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, while also treated as a dietary supplement with nootropic function. Given the neuronal protection of vincamine and the potency of β-cell amelioration in treating type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), we investigated the potential of vincamine in protecting β-cells and ameliorating glucose homeostasis in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, we found that vincamine could protect INS-832/13 cells function by regulating G-protein-coupled receptor 40 (GPR40)/cAMP/Ca2+/IRS2/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, while increasing glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) by modulating GPR40/cAMP/Ca2+/CaMKII pathway, which reveals a novel mechanism underlying GPR40-mediated cell protection and GSIS in INS-832/13 cells. Moreover, administration of vincamine effectively ameliorated glucose homeostasis in either HFD/STZ or db/db type 2 diabetic mice. To our knowledge, our current work might be the first report on vincamine targeting GPR40 and its potential in the treatment of T2DM.