Background: While additional research is needed, a number of large epidemiological studies show an association between circadian disruption and metabolic disorders. Specifically, obesity, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and other signs of metabolic syndrome all have been linked to circadian disruption in humans. Studies in other species support this association and generally reveal that feeding that is not in phase with the external light/dark cycle, as often occurs with night or rotating shift workers, is disadvantageous in terms of energy balance. As food is a strong driver of circadian rhythms in the periphery, understanding how nutrient metabolism drives clocks across the body is important for dissecting out why circadian misalignment may produce such metabolic effects. A number of circadian clock proteins as well as their accessory proteins (such as nuclear receptors) are highly sensitive to nutrient metabolism. Macronutrients and micronutrients can function as zeitgebers for the clock in a tissue-specific way and can thus impair synchrony between clocks across the body, or potentially restore synchrony in the case of circadian misalignment. Circadian nuclear receptors are particularly sensitive to nutrient metabolism and can alter tissue-specific rhythms in response to changes in the diet. Finally, SNPs in human clock genes appear to be correlated with diet-specific responses and along with chronotype eventually may provide valuable information from a clinical perspective on how to use diet and nutrition to treat metabolic disorders.
Scope of review: This article presents a background of the circadian clock components and their interrelated metabolic and transcriptional feedback loops, followed by a review of some recent studies in humans and rodents that address the effects of nutrient metabolism on the circadian clock and vice versa. We focus on studies in which results suggest that nutrients provide an opportunity to restore or, alternatively, can destroy synchrony between peripheral clocks and the central pacemaker in the brain as well as between peripheral clocks themselves. In addition, we review several studies looking at clock gene SNPs in humans and the metabolic phenotypes or tendencies associated with particular clock gene mutations.
Major conclusions: Targeted use of specific nutrients based on chronotype has the potential for immense clinical utility in the future. Macronutrients and micronutrients have the ability to function as zeitgebers for the clock by activating or modulating specific clock proteins or accessory proteins (such as nuclear receptors). Circadian clock control by nutrients can be tissue-specific. With a better understanding of the mechanisms that support nutrient-induced circadian control in specific tissues, human chronotype and SNP information might eventually be used to tailor nutritional regimens for metabolic disease treatment and thus be an important part of personalized medicine's future.[Hide abstract]
Background: Excess storage of lipids in ectopic tissues, such as skeletal muscle, liver, and heart, seems to associate closely with metabolic abnormalities and cardiac disease. Intracellular lipid storage occurs in lipid droplets, which have gained attention as active organelles in cellular metabolism. Recent developments in high-resolution microscopy and microscopic spectroscopy have opened up new avenues to examine the physiology and biochemistry of intracellular lipids.
Scope of review: The aim of this review is to give an overview of recent technical advances in microscopy, and its application for the visualization, identification, and quantification of intracellular lipids, with special focus to lipid droplets. In addition, we attempt to summarize the probes currently available for the visualization of lipids.
Major conclusions: The continuous development of lipid probes in combination with the rapid development of microscopic techniques can provide new insights in the role and dynamics of intracellular lipids. Moreover, in situ identification of intracellular lipids is now possible and promises to add a new dimensionality to analysis of lipid biochemistry, and its relation to (patho)physiology.[Hide abstract]
Background: Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a novel group of universally present, non-coding RNAs (>200 nt) that are increasingly recognized as key regulators of many physiological and pathological processes.
Scope of review: Recent publications have shown that lncRNAs influence lipid homeostasis by controlling lipid metabolism in the liver and by regulating adipogenesis. lncRNAs control lipid metabolism-related gene expression by either base-pairing with RNA and DNA or by binding to proteins.
Major conclusions: The recent advances and future prospects in understanding the roles of lncRNAs in lipid homeostasis are discussed.[Hide abstract]
Method: We performed genome-wide methylome and transcriptome analysis in liver from severely obese men with or without type 2 diabetes and non-obese men to discover aberrant pathways underlying the development of insulin resistance. Results were validated by pyrosequencing.
Result: We identified hypomethylation of genes involved in hepatic glycolysis and insulin resistance, concomitant with increased mRNA expression and protein levels. Pyrosequencing revealed the CpG-site within ATF-motifs was hypomethylated in four of these genes in liver of severely obese non-diabetic and type 2 diabetic patients, suggesting epigenetic regulation of transcription by altered ATF-DNA binding.
Conclusion: Severely obese non-diabetic and type 2 diabetic patients have distinct alterations in the hepatic methylome and transcriptome, with hypomethylation of several genes controlling glucose metabolism within the ATF-motif regulatory site. Obesity appears to shift the epigenetic program of the liver towards increased glycolysis and lipogenesis, which may exacerbate the development of insulin resistance.[Hide abstract]
Objectives: Chronic and high consumption of fat constitutes an environmental stress that leads to metabolic diseases. We hypothesized that high-fat diet (HFD) transgenerationally remodels the epigenome of spermatozoa and metabolism of the offspring.
Methods: F0-male rats fed either HFD or chow diet for 12 weeks were mated with chow-fed dams to generate F1 and F2 offspring. Motile spermatozoa were isolated from F0 and F1 breeders to determine DNA methylation and small non-coding RNA (sncRNA) expression pattern by deep sequencing.
Results: Newborn offspring of HFD-fed fathers had reduced body weight and pancreatic beta-cell mass. Adult female, but not male, offspring of HFD-fed fathers were glucose intolerant and resistant to HFD-induced weight gain. This phenotype was perpetuated in the F2 progeny, indicating transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. The epigenome of spermatozoa from HFD-fed F0 and their F1 male offspring showed common DNA methylation and small non-coding RNA expression signatures. Altered expression of sperm miRNA let-7c was passed down to metabolic tissues of the offspring, inducing a transcriptomic shift of the let-7c predicted targets.
Conclusion: Our results provide insight into mechanisms by which HFD transgenerationally reprograms the epigenome of sperm cells, thereby affecting metabolic tissues of offspring throughout two generations.[Hide abstract]
Objective: Humans and animals exposed to undernutrition (UN) during development often experience accelerated "catch-up" growth when food supplies are plentiful. Little is known about the mechanisms regulating early growth rates. We previously reported that actions of leptin and presynaptic inputs to orexigenic NPY/AgRP/GABA (NAG) neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus are almost exclusively excitatory during the lactation period, since neuronal and humoral inhibitory systems do not develop until after weaning. Moreover, we identified a critical step that regulates the maturation of electrophysiological responses of NAG neurons at weaning - the onset of genes encoding ATP-dependent potassium (KATP) channel subunits. We explored the possibility that UN promotes subsequent catch-up growth, in part, by delaying the maturation of negative feedback systems to neuronal circuits driving food intake.
Methods: We used the large litter (LL) size model to study the impacts of postnatal UN followed by catch-up growth. We evaluated the maturation of presynaptic and postsynaptic inhibitory systems in NAG neurons using a combination of electrophysiological and molecular criteria, in conjunction with leptin's ability to suppress fasting-induced hyperphagia.
Results: The onset of KATP channel subunit expression and function, the switch in leptin's effect on NAG neurons, the ingrowth of inhibitory inputs to NAG neurons, and the development of homeostatic feedback to feeding circuits were delayed in LL offspring relative to controls. The development of functional KATP channels and the establishment of leptin-mediated suppression of food intake in the peri-weaning period were tightly linked and were not initiated until growth and adiposity of LL offspring caught up to controls.
Conclusion: Our data support the idea that initiation of KATP channel subunit expression in NAG neurons serves as a molecular gatekeeper for the maturation of homeostatic feeding circuits.[Hide abstract]
Objective: The family of acyl-CoA synthetase enzymes (ACSL) activates fatty acids within cells to generate long chain fatty acyl CoA (FACoA). The differing metabolic fates of FACoAs such as incorporation into neutral lipids, phospholipids, and oxidation pathways are differentially regulated by the ACSL isoforms. In vitro studies have suggested a role for ACSL5 in triglyceride synthesis; however, we have limited understanding of the in vivo actions of this ACSL isoform.
Methods: To elucidate the in vivo actions of ACSL5 we generated a line of mice in which ACSL5 expression was ablated in all tissues (ACSL5-/-).
Results: Ablation of ACSL5 reduced ACSL activity by ~80% in jejunal mucosa, ~50% in liver, and ~37% in brown adipose tissue lysates. Body composition studies revealed that ACSL5-/-, as compared to control ACSL5loxP/loxP, mice had significantly reduced fat mass and adipose fat pad weights. Indirect calorimetry studies demonstrated that ACSL5-/- had increased metabolic rates, and in the dark phase, increased respiratory quotient. In ACSL5-/- mice, fasting glucose and serum triglyceride were reduced; and insulin sensitivity was improved during an insulin tolerance test. Both hepatic mRNA (~16-fold) and serum levels of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) (~13-fold) were increased in ACSL5-/- as compared to ACSL5loxP/loxP. Consistent with increased FGF21 serum levels, uncoupling protein-1 gene (Ucp1) and PPAR-gamma coactivator 1-alpha gene (Pgc1a) transcript levels were increased in gonadal adipose tissue. To further evaluate ACSL5 function in intestine, mice were gavaged with an olive oil bolus; and the rate of triglyceride appearance in serum was found to be delayed in ACSL5-/- mice as compared to control mice.
Conclusion: In summary, ACSL5-/- mice have increased hepatic and serum FGF21 levels, reduced adiposity, improved insulin sensitivity, increased energy expenditure and delayed triglyceride absorption. These studies suggest that ACSL5 is an important regulator of whole-body energy metabolism and ablation of ACSL5 may antagonize the development of obesity and insulin resistance.[Hide abstract]
Objective: Muscle glucose storage and muscle glycogen synthase (gys1) defects have been associated with insulin resistance. As there are multiple mechanisms for insulin resistance, the specific role of glucose storage defects is not clear. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of muscle-specific gys1 deletion on glucose metabolism and exercise capacity.
Methods: Tamoxifen inducible and muscle specific gys-1 KO mice were generated using the Cre/loxP system. Mice were subjected to glucose tolerance tests, euglycemic/hyperinsulinemic clamps and exercise tests.
Results: gys1-KO mice showed =85% reduction in muscle gys1 mRNA and protein concentrations, 70% reduction in muscle glycogen levels, postprandial hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia and impaired glucose tolerance. Under insulin-stimulated conditions, gys1-KO mice displayed reduced glucose turnover and muscle glucose uptake, indicative of peripheral insulin resistance, as well as increased plasma and muscle lactate levels and reductions in muscle hexokinase II levels. gys1-KO mice also exhibited markedly reduced exercise and endurance capacity.
Conclusions: Thus, muscle-specific gys1 deletion in adult mice results in glucose intolerance due to insulin resistance and reduced muscle glucose uptake as well as impaired exercise and endurance capacity.
In brief: This study demonstrates why the body prioritises muscle glycogen storage over liver glycogen storage despite the critical role of the liver in supplying glucose to the brain in the fasting state and shows that glycogen deficiency results in impaired glucose metabolism and reduced exercise capacity.[Hide abstract]
Objective: Although glucagon-secreting α-cells and insulin-secreting β-cells have opposing functions in regulating plasma glucose levels, the two cell types share a common developmental origin and exhibit overlapping transcriptomes and epigenomes. Notably, destruction of β-cells can stimulate repopulation via transdifferentiation of α-cells, at least in mice, suggesting plasticity between these cell fates. Furthermore, dysfunction of both α- and β-cells contributes to the pathophysiology of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and β-cell de-differentiation has been proposed to contribute to type 2 diabetes. Our objective was to delineate the molecular properties that maintain islet cell type specification yet allow for cellular plasticity. We hypothesized that correlating cell type-specific transcriptomes with an atlas of open chromatin will identify novel genes and transcriptional regulatory elements such as enhancers involved in α- and β-cell specification and plasticity.
Methods: We sorted human α- and β-cells and performed the "Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin with high throughput sequencing" (ATAC-seq) and mRNA-seq, followed by integrative analysis to identify cell type-selective gene regulatory regions.
Result: We identified numerous transcripts with either α-cell- or β-cell-selective expression and discovered the cell type-selective open chromatin regions that correlate with these gene activation patterns. We confirmed cell type-selective expression on the protein level for two of the top hits from our screen. The "group specific protein" (GC; or vitamin D binding protein) was restricted to α-cells, while CHODL (chondrolectin) immunoreactivity was only present in β-cells. Furthermore, α-cell- and β-cell-selective ATAC-seq peaks were identified to overlap with known binding sites for islet transcription factors, as well as with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously identified as risk loci for type 2 diabetes.
Conclusions: We have determined the genetic landscape of human α- and β-cells based on chromatin accessibility and transcript levels, which allowed for detection of novel α- and β-cell signature genes not previously known to be expressed in islets. Using fine-mapping of open chromatin, we have identified thousands of potential cis-regulatory elements that operate in an endocrine cell type-specific fashion.[Hide abstract]
Objective: Obesity is one of the primary healthcare challenges of the 21st century. Signals relaying information regarding energy needs are integrated within the brain to influence body weight. Central among these integration nodes are the brain pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides, perturbations of which disrupt energy balance and promote severe obesity. However, POMC neurons are neurochemically diverse and the crucial source of POMC peptides that regulate energy homeostasis and body weight remains to be fully clarified.
Methods: Given that a 5-hydroxytryptamine 2c receptor (5-HT2CR) agonist is a current obesity medication and 5-HT2CR agonist's effects on appetite are primarily mediated via POMC neurons, we hypothesized that a critical source of POMC regulating food intake and body weight is specifically synthesized in cells containing 5-HT2CRs. To exclusively manipulate Pomc synthesis only within 5-HT2CR containing cells, we generated a novel 5-HT2CRCRE mouse line and intercrossed it with Cre recombinase-dependent and hypothalamic specific reactivatable PomcNEO mice to restrict Pomc synthesis to the subset of hypothalamic cells containing 5-HT2CRs. This provided a means to clarify the specific contribution of a defined subgroup of POMC peptides in energy balance and body weight.
Results: Here we transform genetically programed obese and hyperinsulinemic male mice lacking hypothalamic Pomc with increased appetite, reduced physical activity and compromised brown adipose tissue (BAT) into lean, healthy mice via targeted restoration of Pomc function only within 5-HT2CR expressing cells. Remarkably, the same metabolic transformation does not occur in females, who despite corrected feeding behavior and normalized insulin levels remain physically inactive, have lower energy expenditure, compromised BAT and develop obesity.
Conclusions: These data provide support for the functional heterogeneity of hypothalamic POMC neurons, revealing that Pomc expression within 5-HT2CR expressing neurons is sufficient to regulate energy intake and insulin sensitivity in male and female mice. However, an unexpected sex difference in the function of this subset of POMC neurons was identified with regard to energy expenditure. We reveal that a large sex difference in physical activity, energy expenditure and the development of obesity is driven by this subpopulation, which constitutes approximately 40% of all POMC neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. This may have broad implications for strategies utilized to combat obesity, which at present largely ignore the sex of the obese individual. [Hide abstract]