Volume 30 | December 2019
Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a multifaceted hormone that has diverse metabolic effects. Müller et al. provide a comprehensive overview of the literature on GLP-1, including historical records from the discovery of GLP-1 and its identification as a gastrointestinal insulinotropic hormone, as well as detailed discussion of its synthesis, secretion, and degradation. The receptors for GLP-1 are described, as well as the molecular mechanisms underlying GLP-1-induced insulin secretion.
GLP-1 has a plethora of effects: it influences beta-cell proliferation and apoptosis, glucagon secretion, the cardiovascular system, food intake and body weight, water intake, energy expenditure, gastric emptying, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, learning and memory, and bone. GLP-1 analogs are already being used for the treatment of diabetes, and GLP-1 based obesity treatments are in the process of clinical evaluation. There is considerable and ongoing effort to further optimize their action profile to improve therapeutic outcome. Overall, the multifaceted nature of GLP-1 action makes it an interesting starting point for the development of treatments for various diseases.
Background: An increased access of research laboratories to isolated human islets has improved our understanding of the biology of the endocrine pancreas and hence the mechanisms causing diabetes. However, in vitro studies of human islets remain technically challenging, and optimal use of such precious material requires a minimum of rigor and coordination to optimize the reliability and share of the information. A detailed report of the demographics of pancreas donors and of the procedures of islet handling after isolation is important but insufficient. Correct characterization of islet basic functions (a token of quality) at the time of experimentation is also crucial.
Scope of review: An increased access of research laboratories to isolated human islets has improved our understanding of the biology of the endocrine pancreas and hence the mechanisms causing diabetes. However, in vitro studies of human islets remain technically challenging, and optimal use of such precious material requires a minimum of rigor and coordination to optimize the reliability and share of the information. A detailed report of the demographics of pancreas donors and of the procedures of islet handling after isolation is important but insufficient. Correct characterization of islet basic functions (a token of quality) at the time of experimentation is also crucial.
Major conclusions: Greater coherence and rigor in the report of in vitro studies using human islets are necessary to ensure optimal progress in our understanding of the pathogenesis of diabetes.
Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1)
Background: The glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a multifaceted hormone with broad pharmacological potential. Among the numerous metabolic effects of GLP-1 are the glucose-dependent stimulation of insulin secretion, decrease of gastric emptying, inhibition of food intake, increase of natriuresis and diuresis, and modulation of rodent β-cell proliferation. GLP-1 also has cardio- and neuroprotective effects, decreases inflammation and apoptosis, and has implications for learning and memory, reward behavior, and palatability. Biochemically modified for enhanced potency and sustained action, GLP-1 receptor agonists are successfully in clinical use for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, and several GLP-1-based pharmacotherapies are in clinical evaluation for the treatment of obesity.
Scope of review: In this review, we provide a detailed overview on the multifaceted nature of GLP-1 and its pharmacology and discuss its therapeutic implications on various diseases.
Major conclusions: Since its discovery, GLP-1 has emerged as a pleiotropic hormone with a myriad of metabolic functions that go well beyond its classical identification as an incretin hormone. The numerous beneficial effects of GLP-1 render this hormone an interesting candidate for the development of pharmacotherapies to treat obesity, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.
Acute β-adrenoceptor mediated glucose clearance in brown adipose tissue; a distinct pathway independent of functional insulin signaling
Objective: β-adrenoceptor mediated activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) has been associated with improvements in metabolic health in models of type 2 diabetes and obesity due to its unique ability to increase whole body energy expenditure, and rate of glucose and free fatty acid disposal. While the thermogenic arm of this phenomenon has been studied in great detail, the underlying mechanisms involved in β-adrenoceptor mediated glucose uptake in BAT are relatively understudied. As β-adrenoceptor agonist administration results in increased hepatic gluconeogenesis that can consequently result in secondary pancreatic insulin release, there is uncertainty regarding the importance of insulin and the subsequent activation of its downstream effectors in mediating β-adrenoceptor stimulated glucose uptake in BAT. Therefore, in this study, we made an effort to discriminate between the two pathways and address whether the insulin signaling pathway is dispensable for the effects of β-adrenoceptor activation on glucose uptake in BAT.
Methods: Using a specific inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3-kinase α (PI3Kα), which effectively inhibits the insulin signaling pathway, we examined the effects of various β-adrenoceptor agonists, including the physiological endogenous agonist norepinephrine on glucose uptake and respiration in mouse brown adipocytes in vitro and on glucose clearance in mice in vivo.
Results: PI3Kα inhibition in mouse primary brown adipocytes in vitro, did not inhibit β-adrenoceptor stimulated glucose uptake, GLUT1 synthesis, GLUT1 translocation or respiration. Furthermore, β-adrenoceptor mediated glucose clearance in vivo did not require insulin or Akt activation but was attenuated upon administration of a β3-adrenoceptor antagonist.
Conclusions: We conclude that the β-adrenergic pathway is still functionally intact upon the inhibition of PI3Kα, showing that the activation of downstream insulin effectors is not required for the acute effects of β-adrenoceptor agonists on glucose homeostasis or thermogenesis.
Objective: Coupling metabolic and reproductive pathways is essential for the survival of species. However, the functions of steroidogenic enzymes expressed in metabolic tissues are largely unknown.
Methods and results: Here, we show that in the liver, the classical steroidogenic enzyme Cyp17a1 forms an essential nexus for glucose and ketone metabolism during feed-fast cycles. Both gain- and loss-of-function approaches are used to show that hepatic Cyp17a1 is induced by fasting, catalyzes the production of at least one hormone-ligand (DHEA) for the nuclear receptor PPARα, and is ultimately required for maintaining euglycemia and ketogenesis during nutrient deprivation. The feedback-loop that terminates Cyp17a1-PPARα activity, and re-establishes anabolic liver metabolism during re-feeding is mapped to postprandial bile acid-signaling, involving the receptors FXR, SHP and LRH-1.
Conclusions: Together, these findings represent a novel paradigm of homeostatic control in which nutritional cues feed-forward on to metabolic pathways by influencing extragonadal steroidogenesis.
A reduced form of nicotinamide riboside defines a new path for NAD+ biosynthesis and acts as an orally bioavailable NAD+ precursor
Objective: A decay in intracellular NAD+ levels is one of the hallmarks of physiological decline in normal tissue functions. Accordingly, dietary supplementation with NAD+ precursors can prevent, alleviate, or even reverse multiple metabolic complications and age-related disorders in diverse model organisms. Within the constellation of NAD+ precursors, nicotinamide riboside (NR) has gained attention due to its potent NAD+ biosynthetic effects in vivo while lacking adverse clinical effects. Nevertheless, NR is not stable in circulation, and its utilization is rate-limited by the expression of nicotinamide riboside kinases (NRKs). Therefore, there is a strong interest in identifying new effective NAD+ precursors that can overcome these limitations.
Methods: Through a combination of metabolomics and pharmacological approaches, we describe how NRH, a reduced form of NR, serves as a potent NAD+ precursor in mammalian cells and mice.
Results: NRH acts as a more potent and faster NAD+ precursor than NR in mammalian cells and tissues. Despite the minor structural difference, we found that NRH uses different steps and enzymes to synthesize NAD+, thus revealing a new NRK1-independent pathway for NAD+ synthesis. Finally, we provide evidence that NRH is orally bioavailable in mice and prevents cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury.
Conclusions: Our data identify a new pathway for NAD+ synthesis and classify NRH as a promising new therapeutic strategy to enhance NAD+ levels.
Objective: Hepatokines are proteins secreted by the liver that impact the functions of the liver and various tissues through autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine signaling. Recently, Tsukushi (TSK) was identified as a new hepatokine that is induced by obesity and cold exposure. It was proposed that TSK controls sympathetic innervation and thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) and that loss of TSK protects against diet-induced obesity and improves glucose homeostasis. Here we report the impact of deleting and/or overexpressing TSK on BAT thermogenic capacity, body weight regulation, and glucose homeostasis.
Methods: We measured the expression of thermogenic genes and markers of BAT innervation and activation in TSK-null and TSK-overexpressing mice. Body weight, body temperature, and parameters of glucose homeostasis were also assessed in the context of TSK loss and overexpression.
Results: The loss of TSK did not affect the thermogenic activation of BAT. We found that TSK-null mice were not protected against the development of obesity and did not show improvement in glucose tolerance. The overexpression of TSK also failed to modulate thermogenesis, body weight gain, and glucose homeostasis in mice.
Conclusions: TSK is not a significant regulator of BAT thermogenesis and is unlikely to represent an effective target to prevent obesity and improve glucose homeostasis.
Objective: Recruitment of brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a potential new strategy for increasing energy expenditure (EE) to treat obesity. G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent promising targets to activate BAT, as they are the major regulators of BAT biological function. To identify new regulators of GPCR signaling in BAT, we studied the role of Regulator of G protein Signaling 2 (RGS2) in brown adipocytes and BAT.
Methods: We combined pharmacological and genetic tools to investigate the role of RGS2 in BAT in vitro and in vivo. Adipocyte progenitors were isolated from wild-type (WT) and RGS2 knockout (RGS2−/−) BAT and differentiated to brown adipocytes. This approach was complemented with knockdown of RGS2 using lentiviral shRNAs (shRGS2). Adipogenesis was analyzed by Oil Red O staining and by determining the expression of adipogenic and thermogenic markers. Pharmacological modulators and fluorescence staining of F-acting stress fibers were employed to identify the underlying signaling pathways. In vivo, the activity of BAT was assessed by ex vivo lipolysis and by measuring whole-body EE by indirect calorimetry in metabolic cages.
Results: RGS2 is highly expressed in BAT, and treatment with cGMP—an important enhancer of brown adipocyte differentiation—further increased RGS2 expression. Loss of RGS2 strongly suppressed adipogenesis and the expression of thermogenic genes in brown adipocytes. Mechanistically, we found increased Gq/Rho/Rho kinase (ROCK) signaling in the absence of RGS2. Surprisingly, in vivo analysis revealed elevated BAT activity in RGS2-deficient mice that was caused by enhanced Gs/cAMP signaling.
Conclusion: Overall, RGS2 regulates two major signaling pathways in BAT: Gq and Gs. On the one hand, RGS2 promotes brown adipogenesis by counteracting the inhibitory action of Gq/Rho/ROCK signaling. On the other hand, RGS2 decreases the activity of BAT through the inhibition of Gs signaling and cAMP production. Thus, RGS2 might represent a stress modulator that protects BAT from overstimulation.
The anti-obesity effect of FGF19 does not require UCP1-dependent thermogenesis
Objective: Fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) is a postprandial hormone which plays diverse roles in the regulation of bile acid, glucose, and lipid metabolism. Administration of FGF19 to obese/diabetic mice lowers body weight, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances glycemic control. The primary target organ of FGF19 is the liver, where it regulates bile acid homeostasis in response to nutrient absorption. In contrast, the broader pharmacologic actions of FGF19 are proposed to be driven, in part, by the recruitment of the thermogenic protein uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in white and brown adipose tissue. However, the precise contribution of UCP1-dependent thermogenesis to the therapeutic actions of FGF19 has not been critically evaluated.
Methods: Using WT and germline UCP1 knockout mice, the primary objective of the current investigation was to determine the in vivo pharmacology of FGF19, focusing on its thermogenic and anti-obesity activity.
Results: We report that FGF19 induced mRNA expression of UCP1 in adipose tissue and show that this effect is required for FGF19 to increase caloric expenditure. However, we demonstrate that neither UCP1 induction nor an elevation in caloric expenditure are necessary for FGF19 to induce weight loss in obese mice. In contrast, the anti-obesity action of FGF19 appeared to be associated with its known physiological role. In mice treated with FGF19, there was a significant reduction in the mRNA expression of genes associated with hepatic bile acid synthesis enzymes, lowered levels of hepatic bile acid species, and a significant increase in fecal energy content, all indicative of reduced lipid absorption in animals treated with FGF19.
Conclusions: Taken together, we report that the anti-obesity effect of FGF19 occurs in the absence of UCP1. Our data suggest that the primary way in which exogenous FGF19 lowers body weight in mice may be through the inhibition of bile acid synthesis and subsequently a reduction of dietary lipid absorption.
Loss of FoxOs in muscle reveals sex-based differences in insulin sensitivity but mitigates diet-induced obesity
Objective: Gender influences obesity-related complications, including diabetes. Females are more protected from insulin resistance after diet-induced obesity, which may be related to fat accumulation and muscle insulin sensitivity. FoxOs regulate muscle atrophy and are targets of insulin action, but their role in muscle insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial metabolism is unknown.
Methods: We measured muscle insulin signaling, mitochondrial energetics, and metabolic responses to a high-fat diet (HFD) in male and female muscle-specific FoxO1/3/4 triple knock-out (TKO) mice.
Results: In male TKO muscle, insulin-stimulated AKT activation was decreased. AKT2 protein and mRNA levels were reduced and insulin receptor protein and IRS-2 mRNA decreased. These changes contributed to decreased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in glycolytic muscle in males. In contrast, female TKOs maintain normal insulin-mediated AKT phosphorylation, normal AKT2 levels, and normal glucose uptake in glycolytic muscle. When challenged with a HFD, fat gain was attenuated in both male and female TKO mice, and associated with decreased glucose levels, improved glucose homeostasis, and reduced muscle triglyceride accumulation. Furthermore, female TKO mice showed increased energy expenditure, relative to controls, due to increased lean mass and maintenance of mitochondrial function in muscle.
Conclusions: FoxO deletion in muscle uncovers sexually dimorphic regulation of AKT2, which impairs insulin signaling in male mice, but not females. However, loss of FoxOs in muscle from both males and females also leads to muscle hypertrophy and increases in metabolic rate. These factors mitigate fat gain and attenuate metabolic abnormalities in response to a HFD.
Objective: The dynamic regulation of metabolic pathways can be monitored by stable isotope tracing. Yet, many metabolites are part of distinct processes within different subcellular compartments. Standard isotope tracing experiments relying on analyses in whole cells may not accurately reflect compartmentalized metabolic processes. Analysis of compartmentalized metabolism and the dynamic interplay between compartments can potentially be achieved by stable isotope tracing followed by subcellular fractionation. Although it is recognized that metabolism can take place during biochemical fractionation of cells, a clear understanding of how such post-harvest metabolism impacts the interpretation of subcellular isotope tracing data and methods to correct for this are lacking. We set out to directly assess artifactual metabolism, enabling us to develop and test strategies to correct for it. We apply these techniques to examine the compartment-specific metabolic kinetics of 13C-labeled substrates targeting central metabolic pathways.
Methods: We designed a stable isotope tracing strategy to interrogate post-harvest metabolic activity during subcellular fractionation using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS).
Results: We show that post-harvest metabolic activity occurs rapidly (within seconds) upon cell harvest. With further characterization we reveal that this post-harvest metabolism is enzymatic and reflects the metabolic capacity of the sub-cellular compartment analyzed, but it is limited in the extent of its propagation into downstream metabolites in metabolic pathways. We also propose and test a post-labeling strategy to assess the amount of post-harvest metabolism occurring in an experiment and then to adjust data to account for this. We validate this approach for both mitochondrial and cytosolic metabolic analyses.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that isotope tracing coupled with sub-cellular fractionation can reveal distinct and dynamic metabolic features of cellular compartments, and that confidence in such data can be improved by applying a post-labeling correction strategy. We examine compartmentalized metabolism of acetate and glutamine and show that acetyl-CoA is turned over rapidly in the cytosol and acts as a pacemaker of anabolic metabolism in this compartment.
Objective: Paternally inherited alterations in epigenetic programming are emerging as relevant factors in numerous disease states, including the growth and metabolic defects observed in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. In rodents, chronic paternal alcohol use induces fetal growth restriction, as well as sex-specific alterations in insulin signaling and lipid homeostasis in the offspring. Based on previous studies, we hypothesized that the observed metabolic irregularities are the consequence of paternally inherited alterations liver x receptor (LXR) activity.
Methods: Male offspring of alcohol-exposed sires were challenged with a high-fat diet and the molecular pathways controlling glucose and lipid homeostasis assayed for LXR-induced alterations.
Results: Similar to findings in studies employing LXR agonists we found that the male offspring of alcohol-exposed sires display resistance to diet-induced obesity and improved glucose homeostasis when challenged with a high-fat diet. This improved metabolic adaptation is mediated by LXRα trans-repression of inflammatory cytokines, releasing IKKβ inhibition of the insulin signaling pathway. Interestingly, paternally programmed increases in LXRα expression are liver-specific and do not manifest in the pancreas or visceral fat.
Conclusions: These studies identify LXRα as a key mediator of the long-term metabolic alterations induced by preconception paternal alcohol use.
Circadian clock network desynchrony promotes weight gain and alters glucose homeostasis in mice
Objective: A network of endogenous circadian clocks adapts physiology and behavior to recurring changes in environmental demands across the 24-hour day cycle. Circadian disruption promotes weight gain and type 2 diabetes development. In this study, we aim to dissect the roles of different tissue clocks in the regulation of energy metabolism.
Methods: We used mice with genetically ablated clock function in the circadian pacemaker of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) under different light and feeding conditions to study peripheral clock resetting and the role of the peripheral clock network in the regulation of glucose handling and metabolic homeostasis.
Results: In SCN clock-deficient mice, behavioral and non-SCN tissue clock rhythms are sustained under rhythmic lighting conditions but deteriorate quickly in constant darkness. In parallel to the loss of behavioral and molecular rhythms, the animals develop adiposity and impaired glucose utilization in constant darkness. Restoring peripheral clock rhythmicity and synchrony by time-restricted feeding normalizes body weight and glucose metabolism.
Conclusions: These data reveal the importance of an overall synchronized circadian clockwork for the maintenance of metabolic homeostasis.
Objective: Despite the large body of work describing the tumor suppressor functions of Phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome ten (PTEN), its roles in adipose homeostasis of adult animals are not yet fully understood. Here, we sought to determine the role of PTEN in whole-body adipose homeostasis.
Methods: We genetically manipulated PTEN in specific fat depots through recombinant adeno-associated viral vector (rAAV)-based gene transfer of Cre recombinase to adult PTENflox mice. Additionally, we used a denervation agent, 6OHDA, to assess the role of sympathetic signaling in PTEN-related adipose remodeling. Furthermore, we chemically manipulated AKT signaling via a pan-AKT inhibitor, MK-2206, to assess the role of AKT in PTEN-related adipose remodeling. Finally, to understand the role of leptin and central signaling on peripheral tissues, we knocked down hypothalamic leptin receptor with a microRNA delivered by a rAAV vector.
Results: Knockdown PTEN in individual fat depot resulted in massive expansion of the affected fat depot through activation of AKT signaling associated with suppression of lipolysis and induction of leptin. This hypertrophic expansion of the affected fat depot led to upregulation of PTEN level, higher lipolysis, and induction of white fat browning in other fat depots, and the compensatory reduced fat mass to maintain a set point of whole-body adiposity. Administration of AKT inhibitor MK-2206 prevented the adipose PTEN knockdown-associated effects. 6OHDA-mediated denervation demonstrated that sympathetic innervation was required for the PTEN knockdown-induced adipose redistribution. Knockdown hypothalamic leptin receptor attenuated the adipose redistribution induced by PTEN deficiency in individual fat depot.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the essential role of PTEN in adipose homeostasis, including mass and distribution in adulthood, and reveal an “adipose PTEN-leptin-sympathetic nervous system” feedback loop to maintain a set point of adipose PTEN and whole-body adiposity.
Objective: Lipocalin-2 (LCN2) is a secreted protein involved in innate immunity and has also been associated with several cardiometabolic traits in both mouse and human studies. However, the causal relationship of LCN2 to these traits is unclear, and most studies have examined only males.
Methods: Using adeno-associated viral vectors we expressed LCN2 in either adipose or liver in a tissue specific manner on the background of a whole-body Lcn2 knockout or wildtype mice. Metabolic phenotypes including body weight, body composition, plasma and liver lipids, glucose homeostasis, insulin resistance, mitochondrial phenotyping, and metabolic cage studies were monitored.
Results: We studied the genetics of LCN2 expression and associated clinical traits in both males and females in a panel of 100 inbred strains of mice (HMDP). The natural variation in Lcn2 expression across the HMDP exhibits high heritability, and genetic mapping suggests that it is regulated in part by Lipin1 gene variation. The correlation analyses revealed striking tissue dependent sex differences in obesity, insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis, and dyslipidemia. To understand the causal relationships, we examined the effects of expression of LCN2 selectively in liver or adipose. On a Lcn2-null background, LCN2 expression in white adipose promoted metabolic disturbances in females but not males. It acted in an autocrine/paracrine manner, resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction and an upregulation of inflammatory and fibrotic genes. On the other hand, on a null background, expression of LCN2 in liver had no discernible impact on the traits examined despite increasing the levels of circulating LCN2 more than adipose LCN2 expression. The mechanisms underlying the sex-specific action of LCN2 are unclear, but our results indicate that adipose LCN2 negatively regulates its receptor, LRP2 (or megalin), and its repressor, ERα, in a female-specific manner and that the effects of LCN2 on metabolic traits are mediated in part by LRP2.
Conclusions: Following up on our population-based studies, we demonstrate that LCN2 acts in a highly sex- and tissue-specific manner in mice. Our results have important implications for human studies, emphasizing the importance of sex and the tissue source of LCN2.
Objective: Translation of basic research from bench-to-bedside relies on a better understanding of similarities and differences between mouse and human cell biology, tissue formation, and organogenesis. Thus, establishing ex vivo modeling systems of mouse and human pancreas development will help not only to understand evolutionary conserved mechanisms of differentiation and morphogenesis but also to understand pathomechanisms of disease and design strategies for tissue engineering.
Methods: Here, we established a simple and reproducible Matrigel-based three-dimensional (3D) cyst culture model system of mouse and human pancreatic progenitors (PPs) to study pancreatic epithelialization and endocrinogenesis ex vivo. In addition, we reanalyzed previously reported single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of mouse and human pancreatic lineages to obtain a comprehensive picture of differential expression of key transcription factors (TFs), cell–cell adhesion molecules and cell polarity components in PPs during endocrinogenesis.
Results: We generated mouse and human polarized pancreatic epithelial cysts derived from PPs. This system allowed to monitor establishment of pancreatic epithelial polarity and lumen formation in cellular and sub-cellular resolution in a dynamic time-resolved fashion. Furthermore, both mouse and human pancreatic cysts were able to differentiate towards the endocrine fate. This differentiation system together with scRNA-seq analysis revealed how apical-basal polarity and tight and adherens junctions change during endocrine differentiation.
Conclusions: We have established a simple 3D pancreatic cyst culture system that allows to tempo-spatial resolve cellular and subcellular processes on the mechanistical level, which is otherwise not possible in vivo.
Objective: Islets secrete neurotransmitters including glutamate which participate in fine regulation of islet function. The excitatory ionotropic glutamate receptor GluK2 of the kainate receptor family is widely expressed in brain and also found in islets, mainly in α and γ cells. α cells co-release glucagon and glutamate and the latter increases glucagon release via ionotropic glutamate receptors. However, neither the precise nature of the ionotropic glutamate receptor involved nor its role in glucose homeostasis is known. As isoform specific pharmacology is not available, we investigated this question in constitutive GluK2 knock-out mice (GluK2−/−) using adult and middle-aged animals to also gain insight in a potential role during aging.
Methods: We compared wild-type GluK2+/+ and knock-out GluK2−/− mice using adult (14–20 weeks) and middle-aged animals (40–52 weeks). Glucose (oral OGTT and intraperitoneal IPGTT) and insulin tolerance as well as pyruvate challenge tests were performed according to standard procedures. Parasympathetic activity, which stimulates hormones secretion, was measured by electrophysiology in vivo. Isolated islets were used in vitro to determine islet β-cell electrical activity on multi-electrode arrays and dynamic secretion of insulin as well as glucagon was determined by ELISA.
Results: Adult GluK2−/− mice exhibit an improved glucose tolerance (OGTT and IPGTT), and this was also apparent in middle-aged mice, whereas the outcome of pyruvate challenge was slightly improved only in middle-aged GluK2−/− mice. Similarly, insulin sensitivity was markedly enhanced in middle-aged GluK2−/− animals. Basal and glucose-induced insulin secretion in vivo was slightly lower in GluK2−/− mice, whereas fasting glucagonemia was strongly reduced. In vivo recordings of parasympathetic activity showed an increase in basal activity in GluK2−/− mice which represents most likely an adaptive mechanism to counteract hypoglucagonemia rather than altered neuronal mechanism. In vitro recording demonstrated an improvement of glucose-induced electrical activity of β-cells in islets obtained from GluK2−/− mice at both ages. Finally, glucose-induced insulin secretion in vitro was increased in GluK2−/− islets, whereas glucagon secretion at 2 mmol/l of glucose was considerably reduced.
Conclusions: These observations indicate a general role for kainate receptors in glucose homeostasis and specifically suggest a negative effect of GluK2 on glucose homeostasis and preservation of islet function during aging. Our observations raise the possibility that blockade of GluK2 may provide benefits in glucose homeostasis especially during aging.
Objective: In familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), mutations in the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLr) gene result in increased plasma LDL cholesterol. Clinical and preclinical studies have revealed an association between FH and hippocampus-related memory and mood impairment. We here asked whether hippocampal pathology in FH might be a consequence of compromised adult hippocampal neurogenesis.
Methods: We evaluated hippocampus-dependent behavior and neurogenesis in adult C57BL/6JRj and LDLr−/− mice. We investigated the effects of elevated cholesterol and the function of LDLr in neural precursor cells (NPC) isolated from adult C57BL/6JRj mice in vitro.
Results: Behavioral tests revealed that adult LDLr−/− mice showed reduced performance in a dentate gyrus (DG)-dependent metric change task. This phenotype was accompanied by a reduction in cell proliferation and adult neurogenesis in the DG of LDLr−/− mice, suggesting a potential direct impact of LDLr mutation on NPC. Exposure of NPC to LDL as well as LDLr gene knockdown reduced proliferation and disrupted transcriptional activity of genes involved in endogenous cholesterol synthesis and metabolism. The LDL treatment also induced an increase in intracellular lipid storage. Functional analysis of differentially expressed genes revealed parallel modulation of distinct regulatory networks upon LDL treatment and LDLr knockdown.
Conclusions: Together, these results suggest that high LDL levels and a loss of LDLr function, which are characteristic to individuals with FH, might contribute to a disease-related impairment in adult hippocampal neurogenesis and, consequently, cognitive functions.
Background: Globally, diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease. As the most common microvascular complication of diabetes, DKD is a thorny, clinical problem in terms of its diagnosis and management. Intensive glucose control in DKD could slow down but not significantly halt disease progression. Revisiting the tremendous advances that have occurred in the field would enhance recognition of DKD pathogenesis as well as improve our understanding of translational science in DKD in this new era.
Scope of review: In this review, we summarize advances in the understanding of the local microenvironmental changes in diabetic kidneys and discuss the involvement of genetic and epigenetic factors in the pathogenesis of DKD. We also review DKD prevalence changes and analyze the challenges in optimizing the diagnostic approaches and management strategies for DKD in the clinic. As we enter the era of ‘big data’, we also explore the possibility of linking systems biology with translational medicine in DKD in the current healthcare system.
Major conclusions: Newer understanding of the structural changes of diabetic kidneys and mechanisms of DKD pathogenesis, as well as emergent research technologies will shed light on new methods of dealing with the existing clinical challenges of DKD.