Insulin resistance is a clinical condition characterized by a decrease in sensitivity and responsiveness to the metabolic actions of insulin, so that a given concentration of insulin produces a less-than-expected biological effect. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed to maintain normal glucose tolerance. Hyperinsulinemia, indeed, is one of the principal characteristics of insulin resistance states. This feature is common in several pathologic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and dyslipidemia, and it is also a prominent component of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and atherosclerosis. The presence of endothelial dysfunction, related to insulin resistance, plays a key role in the development and progression of atherosclerosis in all of these disorders. Insulin resistance represents the earliest detectable abnormality in type 2 diabetes, and is one of the major underlying mechanisms of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Its early detection could be of great importance, in order to set a therapeutic attack and to counteract the higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Insulin resistance; Hyperinsulinemia; Type 2 diabetes; Endothelial dysfunction
Insulin is involved in multiple regulatory mechanisms, including body weight and food intake, and plays a critical role in metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. An increasing body of evidence indicates that insulin is also involved in the modulation of olfactory function. The olfactory bulb (OB) contains the highest level of insulin and insulin receptors (IRs) in the brain. However, a role for insulin in odor detection and sniffing behavior remains to be elucidated. Using a behavioral paradigm based on conditioned olfactory aversion (COA) to isoamyl-acetate odor, we demonstrated that an intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of 14 mU insulin acutely decreased olfactory detection of fasted rats to the level observed in satiated animals. In addition, whereas fasted animals demonstrated an increase in respiratory frequency upon food odor detection, this effect was absent in fasted animals receiving a 14 mU insulin ICV injection as well as in satiated animals. In parallel, we showed that the OB and plasma insulin levels were increased in satiated rats compared to fasted rats, and that a 14 mU insulin ICV injection elevated the OB insulin level of fasted rats to that of satiated rats. We further quantified insulin receptors (IRs) distribution and showed that IRs are preferentially expressed in the caudal and lateral parts of the main OB, with the highest labeling found in the mitral cells, the main OB projection neurons. Together, these data suggest that insulin acts on the OB network to modulate olfactory processing and demonstrate that olfactory function is under the control of signals involved in energy homeostasis regulation and feeding behaviors.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, diabetes and dyslipidemia. Insulin resistance (IR) is at the core of metabolic syndrome. In adipose tissue and muscle, IR results in decreased insulin signaling, primarily affecting downstream phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling. It was recently proposed that neurons can develop hyperinsulinemia-induced IR, which in turn results in injury to the peripheral and central nervous systems and is probably pathogenic in common neurological disorders such as diabetic neuropathy and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This review presents evidence indicating that, similarly to insulin-dependent metabolically active tissues such as fat and muscle, neurons also develop IR and thus cannot respond to the neurotrophic properties of insulin, resulting in neuronal injury, subsequent dysfunction and disease states.
Insulin signaling in central nervous system (CNS) has emerged as a novel field of research since decreased brain insulin levels and/or signaling were associated to impaired learning, memory, and age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, besides its well-known role in longevity, insulin may constitute a promising therapy against diabetes- and age-related neurodegenerative disorders. More interestingly, insulin has been also faced as the potential missing link between diabetes and aging in CNS, with Alzheimer's disease (AD) considered as the “brain-type diabetes.” In fact, brain insulin has been shown to regulate both peripheral and central glucose metabolism, neurotransmission, learning, and memory and to be neuroprotective. And a future challenge will be to unravel the complex interactions between aging and diabetes, which, we believe, will allow the development of efficient preventive and therapeutic strategies to overcome age-related diseases and to prolong human “healthy” longevity. Herewith, we aim to integrate the metabolic, neuromodulatory, and neuroprotective roles of insulin in two age-related pathologies: diabetes and AD, both in terms of intracellular signaling and potential therapeutic approach.
Mitochondria play important roles in human physiological processes, and therefore, their dysfunction can lead to a constellation of metabolic and nonmetabolic abnormalities such as a defect in mitochondrial gene expression, imbalance in fuel and energy homeostasis, impairment in oxidative phosphorylation, enhancement of insulin resistance, and abnormalities in fatty acid metabolism. As a consequence, mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the pathophysiology of insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, vascular disease, and chronic heart failure. The increased knowledge on mitochondria and their role in cellular metabolism is providing new evidence that these disorders may benefit from mitochondrial-targeted therapies. We review the current knowledge of the contribution of mitochondrial dysfunction to chronic diseases, the outcomes of experimental studies on mitochondrial-targeted therapies, and explore the potential of metabolic modulators in the treatment of selected chronic conditions. As an example of such modulators, we evaluate the efficacy of the administration of L-carnitine and its analogues acetyl and propionyl L-carnitine in several chronic diseases. L-carnitine is intrinsically involved in mitochondrial metabolism and function as it plays a key role in fatty acid oxidation and energy metabolism. In addition to the transportation of free fatty acids across the inner mitochondrial membrane, L-carnitine modulates their oxidation rate and is involved in the regulation of vital cellular functions such as apoptosis. Thus, L-carnitine and its derivatives show promise in the treatment of chronic conditions and diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction but further translational studies are needed to fully explore their potential.
Severe abnormalities in brain glucose/energy metabolism and insulin signaling have been documented to take a pivotal role in early sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (sAD) pathology. Indeed, the “insulin-resistant brain state” has been hypothesized to form the core of the neurodegenerative events that occur in sAD. In this vein, intracerebroventricular administration of subdiabetogenic doses of streptozotocin (STZ) in rats can induce an insulin-resistant brain state, which is proposed as a suitable experimental model of sAD. This review highlights the involvement of disturbed brain insulin metabolism in sAD etiopathogenesis. Furthermore, current knowledge demonstrates that central STZ administration produces brain pathology and behavioral changes that resemble changes found in sAD patients. The STZ-intracerebroventricularly treated rat represents a promising experimental tool in this field by providing new insights concerning early brain alterations in sAD, which can be translated in novel etiopathogenic and therapeutic approaches in this disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; glucose metabolism; insulin signaling; streptozotocin
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system manifested by cognitive and memory deterioration, a variety of neuropsychiatric symptoms, behavioral disturbances, and progressive impairment of daily life activities. Current pharmacotherapies are restricted to symptomatic interventions but do not prevent progressive neuronal degeneration. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies are needed to intervene with these progressive pathological processes. In the past several years adenosine, a ubiquitously released purine ribonucleoside, has become important for its neuromodulating capability and its emerging positive experimental effects in neurodegenerative diseases. Recent research suggests that adenosine receptors play important roles in the modulation of cognitive function. The present paper attempts to review published reports and data from different studies showing the evidence of a relationship between adenosinergic function and AD-related cognitive deficits. Epidemiological studies have found an association between coffee (a nonselective adenosine receptor antagonist) consumption and improved cognitive function in AD patients and in the elderly. Long-term administration of caffeine in transgenic animal models showed a reduced amyloid burden in brain with better cognitive performance. Antagonists of adenosine A2A receptors mimic these beneficial effects of caffeine on cognitive function. Neuronal cell cultures with amyloid beta in the presence of an A2A receptor antagonist completely prevented amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity. These findings suggest that the adenosinergic system constitutes a new therapeutic target for AD, and caffeine and A2A receptor antagonists may have promise to manage cognitive dysfunction in AD.
Adenosine receptor; Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid beta; caffeine; cognition; neuromodulation.
Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is a medical condition that has increasingly recognized adverse health effects. Obesity is the primary risk factor for the development of SDB and contributes to cardiovascular and metabolic abnormalities in this population. However, accumulating evidence suggests that SDB may be related to the development of these abnormalities independent of obesity. Periodic apneas and hypopneas during sleep result in intermittent hypoxemia, arousals and sleep disturbances. These pathophysiologic characteristics of SDB are likely mechanisms underlying cardiovascular and metabolic abnormalities including hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, altered adipokines, inflammatory cytokines, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance. It appears that treatment of SDB with continuous positive airway pressure reverses some but not all of these abnormalities; however, studies to date have demonstrated inconsistent findings. Weight loss strategies, including diet, exercise, medications and bariatric surgery have been evaluated as a treatment strategy for SDB. In preliminary studies, dietary intervention and exercise have reduced severity of SDB. One study demonstrated mild reductions in weight and subsequent improvements in SDB severity using the weight-reducing medication, sibutramine. In morbidly obese subjects, bariatric surgery effectively induces weight loss and improvement in SDB severity and symptoms, but long-term benefits remain uncertain. Large randomized trials are required to determine the utility of these strategies as long-term approaches to improving SDB and reducing associated complications.
Sleep disordered breathing; obesity; glucose intolerance; weight loss; cytokines
PTEN is a widely recognized negative regulator of insulin/PI3K signaling. However, little is known about its role in neuronal insulin signaling and insulin resistance. The present study provides evidence that PTEN, paradoxically, positively regulates neuronal insulin signaling and insulin resistance.
Lipid and protein tyrosine phosphatase, phosphatase and tension homologue (PTEN), is a widely known negative regulator of insulin/phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling. Down-regulation of PTEN is thus widely documented to ameliorate insulin resistance in peripheral tissues such as skeletal muscle and adipose. However, not much is known about its exact role in neuronal insulin signaling and insulin resistance. Moreover, alterations of PTEN in neuronal systems have led to discovery of several unexpected outcomes, including in the neurodegenerative disorder Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is increasingly being recognized as a brain-specific form of diabetes. In addition, contrary to expectations, its neuron-specific deletion in mice resulted in development of diet-sensitive obesity. The present study shows that PTEN, paradoxically, positively regulates neuronal insulin signaling and glucose uptake. Its down-regulation exacerbates neuronal insulin resistance. The positive role of PTEN in neuronal insulin signaling is likely due to its protein phosphatase actions, which prevents the activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), the kinases critically involved in neuronal energy impairment and neurodegeneration. Results suggest that PTEN acting through FAK, the direct protein substrate of PTEN, prevents ERK activation. Our findings provide an explanation for unexpected outcomes reported earlier with PTEN alterations in neuronal systems and also suggest a novel molecular pathway linking neuronal insulin resistance and AD, the two pathophysiological states demonstrated to be closely linked.
Insulin and IGF seem to be important players in modulating brain aging. Neurons share more similarities with islet cells than any other human cell type. Insulin and insulin receptors are diffusely found in the brain, especially so in the hippocampus. Caloric restriction decreases insulin resistance, and it is the only proven mechanism to expand lifespan. Conversely, insulin resistance increases with age, obesity, and sedentarism, all of which have been shown to be risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). Hyperphagia and obesity potentiate the production of oxidative reactive species (ROS), and chronic hyperglycemia accelerates the formation of advanced glucose end products (AGEs) in (pre)diabetes—both mechanisms favoring a neurodegenerative milieu. Prolonged high cerebral insulin concentrations cause microvascular endothelium proliferation, chronic hypoperfusion, and energy deficit, triggering β-amyloid oligomerization and tau hyperphosphorylation. Insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) seems to be the main mechanism in clearing β-amyloid from the brain. Hyperinsulinemic states may deviate IDE utilization towards insulin processing, decreasing β-amyloid degradation.
The prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular and chronic kidney disease is increasing in developed countries. Obesity, insulin resistance, and hypertension commonly cluster with other risk factors for cardiovascular and chronic kidney disease to form the metabolic syndrome. Emerging evidence supports a paradigm shift in our understanding of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system and in aldosterone's ability to promote insulin resistance and participate in the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome and resistant hypertension. Recent data suggest that excess circulating aldosterone promotes the development of both disorders by impairing insulin metabolic signaling and endothelial function, which in turn leads to insulin resistance and cardiovascular and renal structural and functional abnormalities. Indeed, hyperaldosteronism is associated with impaired pancreatic β-cell function, skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity, and elevated production of proinflammatory adipokines from adipose tissue, which results in systemic inflammation and impaired glucose tolerance.
Accumulating evidence indicates that the cardiovascular and renal abnormalities associated with insulin resistance are mediated in part by aldosterone acting on the mineralocorticoid receptor. Although we have known that mineralocorticoid receptor blockade attenuates cardiovascular and renal injury, only recently have we learned that mineralocorticoid receptor blockade improves pancreatic insulin release, insulin-mediated glucose utilization, and endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation. In summary, aldosterone excess has detrimental metabolic effects that contribute to the metabolic syndrome and endothelial dysfunction, which in turn contribute to the development of resistant hypertension as well as cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease.
Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is a highly prevalent chronic metabolic disease with strong co-morbidity with obesity and cardiovascular diseases. There is growing evidence supporting the notion that a crosstalk between mitochondria and the insulin signaling cascade could be involved in the etiology of T2D and insulin resistance. In this study we investigated the molecular basis of this crosstalk by using systems biology approaches. We combined, filtered, and interrogated different types of functional interaction data, such as direct protein–protein interactions, co-expression analyses, and metabolic and signaling dependencies. As a result, we constructed the mitochondria-insulin (MITIN) network, which highlights 286 genes as candidate functional linkers between these two systems. The results of internal gene expression analysis of three independent experimental models of mitochondria and insulin signaling perturbations further support the connecting roles of these genes. In addition, we further assessed whether these genes are involved in the etiology of T2D using the genome-wide association study meta-analysis from the DIAGRAM consortium, involving 8,130 T2D cases and 38,987 controls. We found modest enrichment of genes associated with T2D amongst our linker genes (p = 0.0549), including three already validated T2D SNPs and 15 additional SNPs, which, when combined, were collectively associated to increased fasting glucose levels according to MAGIC genome wide meta-analysis (p = 8.12×10−5). This study highlights the potential of combining systems biology, experimental, and genome-wide association data mining for identifying novel genes and related variants that increase vulnerability to complex diseases.
It has been shown that the crosstalk between insulin signaling and the mitochondria may be involved in the etiology of type 2 diabetes. In order to characterize the molecular basis of this crosstalk, we mined and filtered several interaction databases of different natures, including protein–protein interactions, gene co-expression, signaling, and metabolic pathway interactions, to identify reliable direct and indirect interactions between insulin signaling cascade and mitochondria genes. This allowed us to identify 286 genes that are associated simultaneously with insulin signaling and mitochondrial genes and therefore could act as a molecular bridge between both systems. We performed in vitro and in vivo experiments where the insulin signaling or the mitochondrial function were disrupted, and we found deregulation of these connecting genes. Finally, we found that common variants in genomic regions where these genes lie are enriched for genetic associations with type 2 diabetes and glycemic traits according to large genome-wide association meta-analyses. In summary, we reconstructed the network implicated in the crosstalk between the mitochondria and the insulin signaling and provide a list of genes connecting both systems. We also propose new potential type 2 diabetes candidate genes.
Purpose of review
In diabetic nephropathy (DN), insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia correlate with the development of albuminuria. The possibility that altered insulin signaling in glomerular cells and particularly podocytes contributes to the development of DN will be discussed.
While normal podocytes uptake glucose in response to insulin, diabetic podocytes become insulin resistant in experimental DN prior to the development of significant albuminuria. Both clinical and experimental data suggest that insulin sensitizers may be renoprotective independently of their systemic effects on the metabolic control of diabetes.
We will review the clinical and experimental evidence that altered insulin signaling correlates with the development of DN in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and that insulin sensitizers may be superior to other hypoglycemic agents in the prevention of DN. We will then review potential mechanisms by which altered podocyte insulin signaling may contribute to the development of DN. Understanding the role of podocyte in glucose metabolism is important because it may lead to the discovery of novel pathogenetic mechanisms of DN, it may affect current strategies for prevention and treatment of DN, and it may allow for the identification of novel therapeutic targets.
diabetic nephropathy; podocytes; insulin signaling
Resistance to insulin metabolic signaling in adipose tissue contributes to the lipid abnormalities in obese, hyperinsulinemic, insulin-resistant patients who develop the cardiorenal syndrome. These same metabolic dyslipidemic abnormalities can be found in conditions of caloric energy restriction with decreased adiposity or normal insulin levels, such as anorexia, starvation or non-diabetic kidney disease. In this review, we assess hypoglycemia as an alternative physiological explanation for the biochemical and lipid findings in conditions of insulin resistance (IR). Therefore, PubMed databases (1961–2010) were searched for articles on the effect of hypoglycemia and starvation on non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) elevation and abnormalities in insulin signaling in muscles as well as abnormal kidney metabolism. The search included articles on NEFA and their role in triglyceride (TG) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism, as well as kidney and heart disease. Available studies support that hypoglycemia increases NEFA generation from adipose tissue. Elevated levels of NEFA induce increased plasma levels of TG and decreased levels of HDL cholesterol, and may cause direct kidney and myocardial damage. IR of adipose and skeletal muscle tissue, and the elevation in insulin levels in obese, insulin-resistant patients could be explained by an adaptation to their carbohydrate intake. These molecular abnormalities in insulin metabolic signaling can also be found in hypoglycemia or starvation. In conclusion, IR of adipose tissue cannot fully explain the lipid abnormalities observed in the cardiorenal syndrome. Decreased blood glucose levels (e.g. hypoglycemia) occur frequently in patients at risk for this syndrome. Hypoglycemia-induced increases in NEFA levels can promote lipid abnormalities that contribute to IR and the cardiorenal syndrome.
Cardiorenal syndrome; Dyslipidemia; Hypoglycemia; Insulin resistance; Non-esterified fatty acids; Obesity
Alzheimer's disease (AD) has characteristic histopathological, molecular, and biochemical abnormalities, including cell loss; abundant neurofibrillary tangles; dystrophic neurites; amyloid precursor protein, amyloid-β (APP-Aβ) deposits; increased activation of prodeath genes and signaling pathways; impaired energy metabolism; mitochondrial dysfunction; chronic oxidative stress; and DNA damage. Gaining a better understanding of AD pathogenesis will require a framework that mechanistically interlinks all these phenomena. Currently, there is a rapid growth in the literature pointing toward insulin deficiency and insulin resistance as mediators of AD-type neurodegeneration, but this surge of new information is riddled with conflicting and unresolved concepts regarding the potential contributions of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), metabolic syndrome, and obesity to AD pathogenesis. Herein, we review the evidence that (1) T2DM causes brain insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and cognitive impairment, but its aggregate effects fall far short of mimicking AD; (2) extensive disturbances in brain insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling mechanisms represent early and progressive abnormalities and could account for the majority of molecular, biochemical, and histopathological lesions in AD; (3) experimental brain diabetes produced by intracerebral administration of streptozotocin shares many features with AD, including cognitive impairment and disturbances in acetylcholine homeostasis; and (4) experimental brain diabetes is treatable with insulin sensitizer agents, i.e., drugs currently used to treat T2DM. We conclude that the term “type 3 diabetes” accurately reflects the fact that AD represents a form of diabetes that selectively involves the brain and has molecular and biochemical features that overlap with both type 1 diabetes mellitus and T2DM.
Alzheimer's disease; central nervous system; diabetes; insulin gene expression; insulin signaling
Obesity causes insulin resistance in target tissues - skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, liver and the brain. Insulin resistance predisposes to type-2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Adipose tissue inflammation is an essential characteristic of obesity and insulin resistance. Neuronatin (Nnat) expression has been found to be altered in a number of conditions related to inflammatory or metabolic disturbance, but its physiological roles and regulatory mechanisms in adipose tissue, brain, pancreatic islets and other tissues are not understood.
We identified transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) conserved in the Nnat promoter, and transcription factors (TF) abundantly expressed in adipose tissue. These include transcription factors concerned with the control of: adipogenesis (Pparγ, Klf15, Irf1, Creb1, Egr2, Gata3); lipogenesis (Mlxipl, Srebp1c); inflammation (Jun, Stat3); insulin signalling and diabetes susceptibility (Foxo1, Tcf7l2). We also identified NeuroD1 the only documented TF that controls Nnat expression. We identified KEGG pathways significantly associated with Nnat expression, including positive correlations with inflammation and negative correlations with metabolic pathways (most prominently oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, pyruvate metabolism) and protein turnover. 27 genes, including; Gstt1 and Sod3, concerned with oxidative stress; Sncg and Cxcl9 concerned with inflammation; Ebf1, Lgals12 and Fzd4 involved in adipogenesis; whose expression co-varies with Nnat were identified, and conserved transcription factor binding sites identified on their promoters. Functional networks relating to each of these genes were identified.
Our analysis shows that Nnat is an acute diet-responsive gene in white adipose tissue and hypothalamus; it may play an important role in metabolism, adipogenesis, and resolution of oxidative stress and inflammation in response to dietary excess.
Insulin resistance is a defining feature of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. While the molecular mechanisms of insulin resistance are multiple, recent evidence suggests that attenuation of insulin signaling by c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) may be a central part of the pathobiology of insulin resistance. Here we demonstrate that the p85α regulatory subunit of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), a key mediator of insulin's metabolic actions, is also required for the activation of JNK in states of insulin resistance, including high-fat diet-induced obesity and JNK1 overexpression. The requirement of the p85α regulatory subunit for JNK occurs independently of its role as a component of the PI3K heterodimer and occurs only in response to specific stimuli, namely, insulin and tunicamycin, a chemical that induces endoplasmic reticulum stress. We further show that insulin and p85 activate JNK by via cdc42 and MKK4. The activation of this cdc42/JNK pathway requires both an intact N terminus and functional SH2 domains within the C terminus of the p85α regulatory subunit. Thus, p85α plays a dual role in regulating insulin sensitivity and may mediate cross talk between the PI3K and stress kinase pathways.
The prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasing in concert with obesity. Insulin resistance, metabolic dyslipidemia, central obesity, albuminuria and hypertension commonly cluster to comprise the cardiometabolic syndrome. Emerging evidence supports a shift in our understanding of the crucial role of elevated serum aldosterone in promoting insulin resistance and resistant hypertension. Aldosterone enhances tissue generation of oxygen free radicals and systemic inflammation. This increase in oxidative stress and inflammation, in turn, contributes to impaired insulin metabolic signaling, reduced endothelial-mediated vasorelaxation and associated cardiovascular and renal structural and functional abnormalities. In this context, recent investigation indicates that hyperaldosteronism, which is often associated with obesity, contributes to impaired pancreatic beta-cell function as well as diminished skeletal muscle insulin metabolic signaling. Accumulating evidence indicates that the cardiovascular and renal abnormalities associated with insulin resistance are mediated, in part, by aldosterone's non-genomic as well as genomic signaling through the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). In the cardiometabolic syndrome there are increased circulating levels of glucocorticoids, which can also activate MR signaling in cardiovascular, adipose, skeletal muscle, neuronal, and liver tissue. Further, there is increasing evidence that fat tissue produces a lipid soluble factor that stimulates aldosterone production from the adrenal zona glomerulosa. Recently, have we learned that MR blockade improves pancreatic insulin release, insulin-mediated glucose utilization, endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation as well as reducing the progression of CVD and CKD. In summary, aldosterone excess exerts detrimental metabolic effects that contribute to the development of the CMS and resistant hypertension as well as CVD and CKD.
Aldosterone; Insulin Resistance; Hypertension; Cardiometabolic Syndrome
Insulin resistance is an important metabolic abnormality often associated with infections, cancer, obesity, and especially non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). We have previously demonstrated that tumor necrosis factor-alpha produced by adipose tissue is a key mediator of insulin resistance in animal models of obesity-diabetes. However, the mechanism by which TNF-alpha interferes with insulin action is not known. Since a defective insulin receptor (IR) tyrosine kinase activity has been observed in obesity and NIDDM, we measured the IR tyrosine kinase activity in the Zucker (fa/fa) rat model of obesity and insulin resistance after neutralizing TNF-alpha with a soluble TNF receptor (TNFR)-lgG fusion protein. This neutralization resulted in a marked increase in insulin-stimulated autophosphorylation of the IR, as well as phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1) in muscle and fat tissues of the fa/fa rats, restoring them to near control (lean) levels. In contrast, no significant changes were observed in insulin-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylations of IR and IRS-1 in liver. The physiological significance of the improvements in IR signaling was indicated by a concurrent reduction in plasma glucose, insulin, and free fatty acid levels. These results demonstrate that TNF-alpha participates in obesity-related systemic insulin resistance by inhibiting the IR tyrosine kinase in the two tissues mainly responsible for insulin-stimulated glucose uptake: muscle and fat.
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) regulates neuronal differentiation and synaptic plasticity, and its decreased levels are supposed to play a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders. The aim of the current study was to estimate the effects of hyperinsulinemia and serum free fatty acids (FFA) elevation on circulating BDNF concentration in humans.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We studied 18 healthy male subjects (mean age 25.6 ± 3.0 years; mean BMI 26.6 ± 4.8 kg/m2). Serum and plasma BDNF concentration was measured in the baseline state and in the 120 and 360 min of euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp with or without intralipid/heparin infusion. Furthermore, plasma BDNF was measured in 20 male subjects (mean age 22.7 ± 2.3 years; mean BMI 24.9 ± 1.5 kg/m2) 360 min after a high-fat meal.
Insulin sensitivity was reduced by ∼40% after 6 h of intralipid/heparin infusion (P < 0.001). During both clamps, serum and plasma BDNF followed the same pattern. Hyperinsulinemia had no effect on circulating BDNF. Raising FFA had no effect on circulating BDNF in 120 min; however, it resulted in a significant decrease by 43% in serum and by 35% in plasma BDNF after 360 min (P = 0.005 and 0.006, respectively). High-fat meal also resulted in a decrease by 27.8% in plasma BDNF (P = 0.04).
Our data show that raising FFA decreases circulating BDNF. This might indicate a potential link between FFA-induced insulin resistance and neurodegenerative disorders.
Serotonin is an important neuromodulator associated with a wide range of physiological effects in the central nervous system. The exact mechanisms for how serotonin influences brain development are not well understood, although studies in invertebrate and vertebrate model organisms are beginning to unravel a regulatory role for serotonin in neuronal morphology and circuit formation. Recent data suggests a developmental window during which altered serotonin levels permanently impact circuitry, however, the temporal constraints and molecular mechanisms responsible are still under investigation. Growing evidence suggests that alterations in early serotonin signaling contribute to a number of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. Thus, understanding how altered serotonin signaling affects neuronal morphology and plasticity, and ultimately animal physiology and pathophysiology, will be of great significance.
Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in mammalian brain. Disturbances in glutamate-mediated neurotransmission have been increasingly documented in a range of neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, substance abuse, mood disorders, Alzheimer's disease, and autism-spectrum disorders. Glutamatergic theories of schizophrenia are based on the ability of N-methyl--aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonists to induce schizophrenia-like symptoms, as well as emergent literature documenting disturbances of NMDAR-related gene expression and metabolic pathways in schizophrenia. Research over the past two decades has highlighted promising new targets for drug development based on potential pre- and postsynaptic, and glial mechanisms leading to NMDAR dysfunction. Reduced NMDAR activity on inhibitory neurons leads to disinhibition of glutamate neurons increasing synaptic activity of glutamate, especially in the prefrontal cortex. Based on this mechanism, normalizing excess glutamate levels by metabotropic glutamate group 2/3 receptor agonists has led to potential identification of the first non-monoaminergic target with comparable efficacy as conventional antipsychotic drugs for treating positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition, NMDAR has intrinsic modulatory sites that are active targets for drug development, several of which show promise in preclinical/early clinical trials targeting both symptoms and cognition. To date, most studies have been done with orthosteric agonists and/or antagonists at specific sites. However, allosteric modulators, both positive and negative, may offer superior efficacy with less danger of downregulation.
NMDA receptors; antipsychotic drugs; cognition; dopamine; dopamine; cognition; schizophrenia/antipsychotics; glutamate; NMDA receptors; antipsychotic drugs
Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of depression as well as neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Recent studies show a role of BDNF in energy metabolism and body weight regulation. We examined BDNF levels in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from age matched elderly depressed and control subjects. Also, the association of BDNF levels with age, gender, body weight, body mass index (BMI), and cognitive performance was evaluated. We did not find any significant differences in plasma and CSF BDNF levels between depressed and control subjects. Plasma BDNF levels were negatively correlated with age (but not with BMI and body weight), when analyses were performed including both depressed and control subjects. A significant reduction in plasma BDNF levels was observed in females as compared to male subjects, and the change in BDNF levels were significantly and positively related to body weight in females. Furthermore, significant increases in Total Recall and Delayed Recall values were found in females as compared to males. In conclusion, the lower BDNF levels observed in females suggest that changes in peripheral BDNF levels are likely secondary to an altered energy balance. However, further studies using larger sample size are warranted.
There is increasing evidence that the incidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is significantly influenced by cardiovascular risk factors in association with a cluster of metabolic diseases including diabetes and atherosclerosis. The shared risk is also reflected in the dietary and lifestyle links to both metabolic disorders and AD-type cognitive dysfunction. Recent studies with genetic and diet-induced animal models have begun to illuminate convergent mechanisms and mediators between these two categories of disease conditions with distinct tissue-specific pathologies. While it is clear that peripheral inflammation and insulin resistance are central to the pathogenesis of the disorders of metabolic syndrome, it seems that the same mechanisms are also in play across the blood brain barrier (BBB) that lead to AD-like molecular and cognitive changes. This review will highlight these convergent mechanisms and discuss the role of cerebrovascular dysfunction as a conduit to brain emergence of these pathogenic processes that might also represent future therapeutic targets in AD in common with metabolic disorders.
Alzheimer's disease; metabolic syndrome; diabetes; atherosclerosis; diet; insulin resistance; inflammation; cerebrovascular dysfunction
Obesity is a major and independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and it is strongly associated with the development of dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Flavonoids, a diverse group of polyphenol compounds of plant origin widely distributed in human diet, have been reported to have numerous health benefits, although the mechanisms underlying these effects have remained obscure. We analyzed the effects of chronic dietary supplementation with flavonoids extracted from cranberry (FLS) in normal and obese C57/BL6 mice compared to mice maintained on the same diets lacking FLS. Obese mice supplemented with flavonoids showed an amelioration of insulin resistance and plasma lipid profile, and a reduction of visceral fat mass. We provide evidence that the adiponectin-AMPK pathway is the main mediator of the improvement of these metabolic disorders. In contrast, the reduced plasma atherogenic cholesterol observed in normal mice under FLS seems to be due to a downregulation of the hepatic cholesterol synthesis pathway. Overall, we demonstrate for the first time that the molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of flavonoids are determined by the metabolic state.