Featured ArticlesVolume 4 | No. 2 | February 2015
|Central insulin signaling modulates hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis responsivenessChong and colleagues show evidence that insulin receptor (InsR) signaling in hypothalamic neurons provides an important source of crosstalk between energy status and stress reactivity. InsR signaling in AgRP/NPY neurons appears to promote arginine vasopressin release, while signaling in other hypothalamic neurons likely acts in an opposite fashion.|
Abstract | PDF
Objective: Obesity is often accompanied by hyperactivity of the neuroendocrine stress axis and has been linked to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. Insulin is reciprocally regulated with the stress hormone corticosterone (CORT), raising the possibility that insulin normally provides inhibitory tone to the hypothalamus-adrenal-pituitary (HPA) axis. Here we examined whether disrupting signaling via the insulin receptor (InsR) in hypothalamic subpopulations impacts the neuroendocrine response to acute psychological stress.
Methods: We used Nkx2.1-Cre, Sim1-Cre and Agrp-Cre transgenic driver lines to generate conditional knockouts of InsR signaling throughout the hypothalamus, paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH) and in neurons expressing Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARH), respectively. We used a combination of molecular, behavioral and neuroendocrine criteria to evaluate the consequences on HPA axis responsiveness.
Results: Endpoints related to body weight and glucose homeostasis were not altered in any of the conditional mutant lines. Consistent with observations in the neuronal Insr knockout mice (NIRKO), baseline levels of serum CORT were similar to controls in all three lines. In male mice with broad disruptions of InsR signals in Nkx2.1-expressing regions of the hypothalamus (IRNkx2.1 KO), we observed elevated arginine vasopressin (AVP) levels at baseline and heightened neuroendocrine responses to restraint stress. IRNkx2.1 KO males also exhibited increased anxiety-like behaviors in open field, marble burying, and stress-induced hyperthermia testing paradigms. HPA axis responsivity was not altered in IRSim1 KO males, in which InsR was disrupted in the PVH. In contrast to observations in the IRNkx2.1 KO males, disrupting InsR signals in ARH neurons expressing Agrp (IR Agrp KO) led to reduced AVP release in the median eminence (ME).
Conclusions: We find that central InsR signals modulate HPA responsivity to restraint stress. InsR signaling in AgRP/NPY neurons appears to promote AVP release, while signaling in other hypothalamic neuron(s) likely acts in an opposing fashion. Alterations in InsR signals in neurons that integrate metabolic and psychiatric information could contribute to the high co-morbidity of obesity and mental disorders.[Hide abstract]
|Blockade of VEGF-C and VEGF-D under high-fat dietKaraman and colleagues reveal an unanticipated role of the lymphangiogenetic factors VEGF-C and -D in the mediation of metabolic syndrome-associated
adipose tissue inflammation. Blockage of the two VEGFR-3 ligands improves systemic insulin sensitivity and protects the liver against high-fat diet induced
steatosis, associated with reduced adipose tissue inflammation.|
Abstract | PDF
Objective: Elevated serum levels of the lymphangiogenic factors VEGF-C and -D have been observed in obese individuals but their relevance for the metabolic syndrome has remained unknown.
Methods: K14-VEGFR-3-Ig (sR3) mice that constitutively express soluble-VEGFR-3-Ig in the skin, scavenging VEGF-C and -D, and wildtype (WT) mice were fed either chow or high-fat diet for 20 weeks. To assess the effect of VEGFR-3 blockage on adipose tissue growth and insulin sensitivity, we evaluated weight gain, adipocyte size and hepatic lipid accumulation. These results were complemented with insulin tolerance tests, FACS analysis of adipose tissue macrophages, in vitro 3T3-L1 differentiation assays and in vivo blocking antibody treatment experiments.
Results: We show here that sR3 mice are protected from obesity-induced insulin resistance and hepatic lipid accumulation. This protection is associated with enhanced subcutaneous adipose tissue hyperplasia and an increased number of alternatively-activated (M2) macrophages in adipose tissue. We also show that VEGF-C and -D are chemotactic for murine macrophages and that this effect is mediated by VEGFR-3, which is upregulated on M1 polarized macrophages. Systemic antibody blockage of VEGFR-3 in db/db mice reduces adipose tissue macrophage infiltration and hepatic lipid accumulation, and improves insulin sensitivity.
Conclusions: These results reveal an unanticipated role of the lymphangiogenic factors VEGF-C and -D in the mediation of metabolic syndrome-associated adipose tissue inflammation. Blockage of these lymphangiogenic factors might constitute a new therapeutic strategy for the prevention of obesity-associated insulin resistance.[Hide abstract]
|A gut–brain neural circuitSoty and colleagues report that deficient intestinal gluconeogenesis (IGN) per se is sufficient to initiate metabolic impairment characteristic of a pre-diabetic state in mice. Deregulation in a key target of (IGN), the homeostatic hypothalamic function, is a mechanistic link.|
Abstract | PDF
Objectives: Certain nutrients positively regulate energy homeostasis via intestinal gluconeogenesis (IGN). The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of a deficient IGN in glucose control independently of nutritional environment.
Methods: We used mice deficient in the intestine glucose-6 phosphatase catalytic unit, the key enzyme of IGN (I-G6pc−/− mice). We evaluated a number of parameters involved in energy homeostasis, including insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic euglycaemic clamp), the pancreatic function (insulin secretion in vivo and in isolated islets) and the hypothalamic homeostatic function (leptin sensitivity).
Results: Intestinal-G6pc−/− mice exhibit slight fasting hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and a deteriorated pancreatic function, despite normal diet with no change in body weight. These defects evoking type 2 diabetes (T2D) derive from the basal activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). They are corrected by treatment with an inhibitor of α-2 adrenergic receptors. Deregulation in a key target of IGN, the homeostatic hypothalamic function (highlighted here through leptin resistance) is a mechanistic link. Hence the leptin resistance and metabolic disorders in I-G6pc−/− mice are corrected by rescuing IGN by portal glucose infusion. Finally, I-G6pc −/− mice develop the hyperglycaemia characteristic of T2D more rapidly under high fat/high sucrose diet.
Conclusions: Intestinal gluconeogenesis is a mandatory function for the healthy neural control of glucose homeostasis.[Hide abstract]
|SIRT1 enhances glucose toleranceMice with moderate overexpression of SIRT1 exhibit better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity even on a low fat diet. Boutant and colleagues illustrate how SIRT1 gain-of-function can improve insulin sensitivity by acting as a gauge for the brown adipose tissue response to β3-adrenergic stimuli.|
Abstract | PDF
Objective: SIRT1 has been proposed to be a key signaling node linking changes in energy metabolism to transcriptional adaptations. Although SIRT1 overexpression is protective against diverse metabolic complications, especially in response to high-fat diets, studies aiming to understand the etiology of such benefits are scarce. Here, we aimed to identify the key tissues and mechanisms implicated in the beneficial effects of SIRT1 on glucose homeostasis.
Methods: We have used a mouse model of moderate SIRT1 overexpression, under the control of its natural promoter, to evaluate glucose homeostasis and thoroughly characterize how different tissues could influence insulin sensitivity.
Results: Mice with moderate overexpression of SIRT1 exhibit better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity even on a low fat diet. Euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamps and in-depth tissue analyses revealed that enhanced insulin sensitivity was achieved through a higher brown adipose tissue activity and was fully reversed by housing the mice at thermoneutrality. SIRT1 did not influence brown adipocyte differentiation, but dramatically enhanced the metabolic transcriptional responses to β3-adrenergic stimuli in differentiated adipocytes.
Conclusions: Our work demonstrates that SIRT1 improves glucose homeostasis by enhancing BAT function. This is not consequent to an alteration in the brown adipocyte differentiation process, but as a result of potentiating the response to β3-adrenergic stimuli.[Hide abstract]
|Cardiomyocyte glucagon receptor signalingThere is increasing interest in the development of drugs that reduce or activate glucagon receptor (Gcgr) signaling for the treatment of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. However, the cardiovascular consequences of manipulating glucagon action are poorly understood. Ali and colleagues
demonstrate that exogenous glucagon administration has negative actions on the ischemic heart, whereas reduction in cardiac glucagon action in GcgrCM-/- mice results in marked cardioprotection.|
Abstract | PDF
Objective: Glucagon is a hormone with metabolic actions that maintains normoglycemia during the fasting state. Strategies enabling either inhibition or activation of glucagon receptor (Gcgr) signaling are being explored for the treatment of diabetes or obesity. However, the cardiovascular consequences of manipulating glucagon action are poorly understood.
Methods: We assessed infarct size and the following outcomes following left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery ligation; cardiac gene and protein expression, acylcarnitine profiles, and cardiomyocyte survival in normoglycemic non-obese wildtype mice, and in newly generated mice with selective inactivation of the cardiomyocyte Gcgr. Complementary experiments analyzed Gcgr signaling and cell survival in cardiomyocyte cultures and cell lines, in the presence or absence of exogenous glucagon.
Results: Exogenous glucagon administration directly impaired recovery of ventricular pressure in ischemic mouse hearts ex vivo, and increased mortality from myocardial infarction after LAD coronary artery ligation in mice in a p38 MAPK-dependent manner. In contrast, cardiomyocyte-specific reduction of glucagon action in adult GcgrCM−/− mice significantly improved survival, and reduced hypertrophy and infarct size following myocardial infarction. Metabolic profiling of hearts from GcgrCM−/− mice revealed a marked reduction in long chain acylcarnitines in both aerobic and ischemic hearts, and following high fat feeding, consistent with an essential role for Gcgr signaling in the control of cardiac fatty acid utilization.
Conclusions: Activation or reduction of cardiac Gcgr signaling in the ischemic heart produces substantial cardiac phenotypes, findings with implications for therapeutic strategies designed to augment or inhibit Gcgr signaling for the treatment of metabolic disorders.[Hide abstract]
|Angiopoietin-like 4 in brainVienberg and colleagues explore the regulation and role of angiopoietin-like 4 (Angptl4) in the brain in mouse models of diabetes and through the use of the Angptl4 knockout mice. Angptl4 expression in hypothalamus is upregulated in both type 1 and type 2 diabetic animal models. However, in contrast to the
periphery, central Angptl4 does not regulate lipoprotein lipase activity, but appears to participate in the metabolic crosstalk between glia and neurons.|
Abstract | PDF
Objective: Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is a key regulator of circulating triglyceride rich lipoprotein hydrolysis. In brain LPL regulates appetite and energy expenditure. Angiopoietin-like 4 (Angptl4) is a secreted protein that inhibits LPL activity and, thereby, triglyceride metabolism, but the impact of Angptl4 on central lipid metabolism is unknown.
Methods: We induced type 1 diabetes by streptozotocin (STZ) in whole-body Angptl4 knockout mice (Angptl4-/-) and their wildtype littermates to study the role of Angptl4 in central lipid metabolism.
Results: In type 1 (streptozotocin, STZ) and type 2 (ob/ob) diabetic mice, there is a ~2-fold increase of Angptl4 in the hypothalamus and skeletal muscle. Intracerebroventricular insulin injection into STZ mice at levels which have no effect on plasma glucose restores Angptl4 expression in hypothalamus. Isolation of cells from the brain reveals that Angptl4 is produced in glia, whereas LPL is present in both glia and neurons. Consistent with the in vivo experiment, in vitro insulin treatment of glial cells causes a 50% reduction of Angptl4 and significantly increases LPL activity with no change in LPL expression. In Angptl4-/- mice, LPL activity in skeletal muscle is increased 3-fold, and this is further increased by STZ-induced diabetes. By contrast, Angptl4-/- mice show no significant difference in LPL activity in hypothalamus or brain independent of diabetic and nutritional status.
Conclusion: Thus, Angptl4 in brain is produced in glia and regulated by insulin. However, in contrast to the periphery, central Angptl4 does not regulate LPL activity, but appears to participate in the metabolic crosstalk between glia and neurons.[Hide abstract]