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1.  Hypertrophy and/or Hyperplasia: Dynamics of Adipose Tissue Growth 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(3):e1000324.
Adipose tissue grows by two mechanisms: hyperplasia (cell number increase) and hypertrophy (cell size increase). Genetics and diet affect the relative contributions of these two mechanisms to the growth of adipose tissue in obesity. In this study, the size distributions of epididymal adipose cells from two mouse strains, obesity-resistant FVB/N and obesity-prone C57BL/6, were measured after 2, 4, and 12 weeks under regular and high-fat feeding conditions. The total cell number in the epididymal fat pad was estimated from the fat pad mass and the normalized cell-size distribution. The cell number and volume-weighted mean cell size increase as a function of fat pad mass. To address adipose tissue growth precisely, we developed a mathematical model describing the evolution of the adipose cell-size distributions as a function of the increasing fat pad mass, instead of the increasing chronological time. Our model describes the recruitment of new adipose cells and their subsequent development in different strains, and with different diet regimens, with common mechanisms, but with diet- and genetics-dependent model parameters. Compared to the FVB/N strain, the C57BL/6 strain has greater recruitment of small adipose cells. Hyperplasia is enhanced by high-fat diet in a strain-dependent way, suggesting a synergistic interaction between genetics and diet. Moreover, high-fat feeding increases the rate of adipose cell size growth, independent of strain, reflecting the increase in calories requiring storage. Additionally, high-fat diet leads to a dramatic spreading of the size distribution of adipose cells in both strains; this implies an increase in size fluctuations of adipose cells through lipid turnover.
Author summary
Obesity is an enlargement of adipose tissue to store excess energy intake. Hyperplasia (cell number increase) and hypertrophy (cell size increase) are two possible growth mechanisms. The in vivo dynamic change of fat tissue cannot be monitored in real time due to current technical limitations. However, we can measure cell-size distributions of fat cells in individual animals. Our fundamental goal is to extract dynamic features of tissue remodeling from snapshots of cell-size distributions. We develop a mathematical model that interpolates between the cell-size distribution measurements and predicts the continuous change of the cell-size distribution with respect to fat pad mass increase. Our adipose tissue growth model includes three essential components: new cell recruitment, size-dependent cell growth, and cell-size fluctuations. In particular, we compared the adipose tissue growth of obesity-prone and obesity-resistant mice under a standard or a high-fat diet to examine the genetic and diet effect on adipose tissue growth. By applying our model to these different conditions, we found that the size increase of fat cells is dependent on diet. On the other hand, the diet-induced number increase of fat cells is dependent on strain, suggesting a synergy between genetics and diet.
PMCID: PMC2653640  PMID: 19325873
2.  The endocannabinoid system links gut microbiota to adipogenesis 
We investigated several models of gut microbiota modulation: selective (prebiotics, probiotics, high-fat), drastic (antibiotics, germ-free mice) and mice bearing specific mutations of a key gene involved in the toll-like receptors (TLR) bacteria-host interaction (Myd88−/−). Here we report that gut microbiota modulates the intestinal endocannabinoid (eCB) system-tone, which in turn regulates gut permeability and plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) levels.The activation of the intestinal endocannabinoid system increases gut permeability which in turn enhances plasma LPS levels and inflammation in physiological and pathological conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.The investigation of adipocyte differentiation and lipogenesis (both markers of adipogenesis) indicate that gut microbiota controls adipose tissue physiology through LPS-eCB system regulatory loops and may play a critical role in the adipose tissue plasticity during obesity.In vivo, ex vivo and in vitro studies indicate that LPS acts as a master switch on adipose tissue metabolism, by blocking the cannabinoid-driven adipogenesis.
Obesity and type II diabetes have reached epidemic proportions and are associated with a massive expansion of the adipose tissue. Recent data have shown that these metabolic disorders are characterised by low-grade inflammation of unknown molecular origin (Hotamisligil and Erbay, 2008; Shoelson and Goldfine, 2009); therefore, it is of the utmost importance to identify the link between inflammation and adipose tissue metabolism and plasticity. Among the latest important discoveries published in the field, two new concepts have driven this study. First, emerging data have shown that gut microbiota is involved in the control of energy homeostasis (Ley et al, 2005; Turnbaugh et al, 2006; Claus et al, 2008) Obesity is characterised by the massive expansion of adipose tissues and is associated with inflammation (Weisberg et al, 2003). It is possible that both this expansion and the associated inflammation are controlled by microbiota and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (Cani et al, 2007a, 2008), a cell wall component of Gram-negative bacteria that is among the most potent inducers of inflammation (Cani et al, 2007a, 2007b, 2008; Cani and Delzenne, 2009). Second, obesity is also characterised by greater endocannabinoid (eCB) system tone (increased eCB plasma levels, altered expression of the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1 mRNA) and increased eCB levels in the adipose tissue) (Engeli et al, 2005; Bluher et al, 2006; Matias et al, 2006; Cote et al, 2007; D'Eon et al, 2008; Starowicz et al, 2008; Di Marzo et al, 2009; Izzo et al, 2009).
Several studies have suggested a close relationship between LPS, gut microbiota and the eCB system. Indeed, LPS controls the synthesis of eCB in macrophages, whereas macrophage infiltration in the adipose tissue occurring during obesity is an important factor in the development of the metabolic disorders (Weisberg et al, 2003). We have shown that macrophage infiltration is not only dependent on the activation of the receptor CD14 by LPS, but is also dependent on the gut microbiota composition and the gut barrier function (gut permeability) (Cani et al, 2007a, 2008). Moreover, LPS controls the synthesis of eCBs both in vivo (Hoareau et al, 2009) and in vitro (Di Marzo et al, 1999; Maccarrone et al, 2001) through mechanisms dependent of the LPS receptor signalling pathway (Liu et al, 2003). Thus, obesity is nowadays associated with changes in gut microbiota and a higher endocannabinoid system tone, both having a function in the disease's pathophysiology.
Given that the convergent molecular mechanisms that may affect these different supersystem activities and adiposity remain to be elucidated, we tested the hypothesis that the gut microbiota and the eCB system control gut permeability and adipogenesis, by a LPS-dependent mechanism, under both physiological and obesity-related conditions.
First, we found that high-fat diet-induced obese and diabetic animals exhibit threefold higher colonic CB1 mRNA, whereas no modification was observed in the small intestinal segment (jejunum). Moreover, selective modulation of gut microbiota using prebiotics (i.e. non-digestible compounds fermented by specific bacteria in the gut) (Gibson and Roberfroid, 1995) reduces by about one half this effect. Similarly, in genetically obese mice (ob/ob), prebiotic treatment decreases colonic CB1 mRNA and colonic eCB concentrations (AEA) (Figure 2A). In addition, we have observed a modulation of FAAH and MGL mRNA (Figure 2A). Furthermore, we have found that antibiotic treatment decreasing the number of gut bacteria content was associated with a strong reduction of the CB1 receptor levels in the colon of healthy mice.
Second, we show that the endocannabinoid system controls gut barrier function (in vivo and in vitro) and endotoxaemia. More precisely, we designed two in vivo experiments in obese and lean mice (Figure 2). In a first experiment, we blocked the CB1 receptor in obese mice with a specific and selective antagonist (SR141716A) and found that the blockade of the CB1 receptor reduces plasma LPS levels by a mechanism linked to the improvement of the gut barrier function (Figure 2C) as shown by the lower alteration of tight junctions proteins (zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) and occludin) distribution and localisation, and independently of food intake behaviour (Figures 2D and 3). In a second set of experiments performed in lean wild-type mice, we mimicked the increased eCB system tone observed during obesity by chronic (4-week) infusion of a cannabinoid receptor agonist (HU-210) through mini-pumps implanted subcutaneously. We found that cannabinoid agonist administration significantly increased plasma LPS levels. Furthermore, increased plasma fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran levels were observed after oral gavage (Figure 2F and G). These sets of in vivo experiments strongly suggest that an overactive eCB system increases gut permeability. Finally, in a cellular model of intestinal epithelial barrier (Caco-2 cells monolayer), we found that CB1 receptor antagonist normalised LPS and the cannabinoid receptors agonist HU-210-induced epithelial barrier alterations.
Third, we provide evidence that adipogenesis is under the control of the gut microbiota, through the modulation of the gut and adipose tissue endocannabinoid systems in both physiological and pathological conditions. We found that the higher eCB system tone (found in obesity or mimicked by eCB agonist) participates to the regulation of adipogenesis by directly acting on the adipose tissue, but also indirectly by increasing plasma LPS levels, which consequently impair adipogenesis and promote inflammatory states. Here, we found that both the specific modulation of the gut microbiota and the blockade of the CB1 receptor decrease plasma LPS levels and is associated with higher adipocyte differentiation and lipogenesis rate. One possible explanation for these surprising data could be as follows: plasma LPS levels might be under the control of CB1 in the intestine (gut barrier function); therefore, under particular pathophysiological conditions in vivo (e.g. obesity/type II diabetes), this could lead to higher circulating LPS levels. Furthermore, CB1 receptor blockade might paradoxically increase adipogenesis because of the ability of CB1 antagonist to reduce gut permeability and counteract the LPS-induced inhibitory effect on adipocyte differentiation and lipogenesis (i.e. a disinhibition mechanism). In summary, given that these treatments reduce gut permeability and, hence, plasma LPS levels and inflammatory tone, we hypothesised that LPS could act as a regulator in this process. This hypothesis was further supported in vitro and in vivo by the observation that cannabinoid-induced adipocyte differentiation and lipogenesis were directly altered (i.e. reduced) in the presence of physiological levels of LPS. In summary, because these treatments reduce gut permeability, hence, plasma LPS and inflammatory tone, we hypothesised that LPS acts as a regulator in this process. Altogether, our data provide the evidence that the consequences of obesity and gut microbiota dysregulation on gut permeability and metabolic endotoxaemia are clearly mediated by the eCB system, those observed on adiposity are likely the result of two systems interactions: LPS-dependent pathways activities and eCB system tone dysregulation (Figure 9).
Our results indicate that the endocannabinoid system tone and the plasma LPS levels have a critical function in the regulation of the adipose tissue plasticity. As obesity is commonly characterised by increased eCB system tone, higher plasma LPS levels, altered gut microbiota and impaired adipose tissue metabolism, it is likely that the increased eCB system tone found in obesity is caused by a failure or a vicious cycle within the pathways controlling the eCB system.
These findings show that two novel therapeutic targets in the treatment of obesity, the gut microbiota and the endocannabinoid system, are closely interconnected. They also provide evidence for the presence of a new integrative physiological axis between gut and adipose tissue regulated by LPS and endocannabinoids. Finally, we propose that the increased endotoxaemia and endocannabinoid system tone found in obesity might explain the altered adipose tissue metabolism.
Obesity is characterised by altered gut microbiota, low-grade inflammation and increased endocannabinoid (eCB) system tone; however, a clear connection between gut microbiota and eCB signalling has yet to be confirmed. Here, we report that gut microbiota modulate the intestinal eCB system tone, which in turn regulates gut permeability and plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) levels. The impact of the increased plasma LPS levels and eCB system tone found in obesity on adipose tissue metabolism (e.g. differentiation and lipogenesis) remains unknown. By interfering with the eCB system using CB1 agonist and antagonist in lean and obese mouse models, we found that the eCB system controls gut permeability and adipogenesis. We also show that LPS acts as a master switch to control adipose tissue metabolism both in vivo and ex vivo by blocking cannabinoid-driven adipogenesis. These data indicate that gut microbiota determine adipose tissue physiology through LPS-eCB system regulatory loops and may have critical functions in adipose tissue plasticity during obesity.
PMCID: PMC2925525  PMID: 20664638
adipose tissue; endocannabinoids; gut microbiota; lipopolysaccharide (LPS); obesity
3.  Crif1 Deficiency Reduces Adipose OXPHOS Capacity and Triggers Inflammation and Insulin Resistance in Mice 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003356.
Impaired mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) has been proposed as an etiological mechanism underlying insulin resistance. However, the initiating organ of OXPHOS dysfunction during the development of systemic insulin resistance has yet to be identified. To determine whether adipose OXPHOS deficiency plays an etiological role in systemic insulin resistance, the metabolic phenotype of mice with OXPHOS–deficient adipose tissue was examined. Crif1 is a protein required for the intramitochondrial production of mtDNA–encoded OXPHOS subunits; therefore, Crif1 haploinsufficient deficiency in mice results in a mild, but specific, failure of OXPHOS capacity in vivo. Although adipose-specific Crif1-haploinsufficient mice showed normal growth and development, they became insulin-resistant. Crif1-silenced adipocytes showed higher expression of chemokines, the expression of which is dependent upon stress kinases and antioxidant. Accordingly, examination of adipose tissue from Crif1-haploinsufficient mice revealed increased secretion of MCP1 and TNFα, as well as marked infiltration by macrophages. These findings indicate that the OXPHOS status of adipose tissue determines its metabolic and inflammatory responses, and may cause systemic inflammation and insulin resistance.
Author Summary
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most challenging health problems in the 21st century. Although insulin resistance is regarded as a fundamental defect that precedes the development of type 2 diabetes, the nature and cause of insulin resistance remain unknown. Adipose tissue is an important organ that determines whole-body energy metabolism, and its dysfunction is a critical element in the development of systemic insulin resistance. Adipose mitochondrial function is suppressed in the insulin-resistant state, and increased adipose mitochondrial biogenesis is associated with the reversal of insulin resistance by a PPARγ agonist. However, despite these important observations, little is known about how mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction in white adipose tissue (WAT) causes insulin resistance. To determine whether adipose deficiency of mitochondrial respiratory capacity plays an etiological role in systemic insulin resistance, the metabolic phenotype of mice with mitochondrial OXPHOS (oxidative phosphorylation)–deficient adipose tissue was examined. Crif1 is a protein required for the translation of mtDNA–encoded OXPHOS subunits. Interestingly, mice haploinsufficient for Crif1 in adipose tissue showed reduced OXPHOS capacity and developed marked insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3597503  PMID: 23516375
4.  Comparative analysis of the human hepatic and adipose tissue transcriptomes during LPS-induced inflammation leads to the identification of differential biological pathways and candidate biomarkers 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:71.
Insulin resistance (IR) is accompanied by chronic low grade systemic inflammation, obesity, and deregulation of total body energy homeostasis. We induced inflammation in adipose and liver tissues in vitro in order to mimic inflammation in vivo with the aim to identify tissue-specific processes implicated in IR and to find biomarkers indicative for tissue-specific IR.
Human adipose and liver tissues were cultured in the absence or presence of LPS and DNA Microarray Technology was applied for their transcriptome analysis. Gene Ontology (GO), gene functional analysis, and prediction of genes encoding for secretome were performed using publicly available bioinformatics tools (DAVID, STRING, SecretomeP). The transcriptome data were validated by proteomics analysis of the inflamed adipose tissue secretome.
LPS treatment significantly affected 667 and 483 genes in adipose and liver tissues respectively. The GO analysis revealed that during inflammation adipose tissue, compared to liver tissue, had more significantly upregulated genes, GO terms, and functional clusters related to inflammation and angiogenesis. The secretome prediction led to identification of 399 and 236 genes in adipose and liver tissue respectively. The secretomes of both tissues shared 66 genes and the remaining genes were the differential candidate biomarkers indicative for inflamed adipose or liver tissue. The transcriptome data of the inflamed adipose tissue secretome showed excellent correlation with the proteomics data.
The higher number of altered proinflammatory genes, GO processes, and genes encoding for secretome during inflammation in adipose tissue compared to liver tissue, suggests that adipose tissue is the major organ contributing to the development of systemic inflammation observed in IR. The identified tissue-specific functional clusters and biomarkers might be used in a strategy for the development of tissue-targeted treatment of insulin resistance in patients.
PMCID: PMC3196688  PMID: 21978410
5.  Characterization of Cre Recombinase Activity for In Vivo Targeting of Adipocyte Precursor Cells 
Stem Cell Reports  2014;3(6):1147-1158.
The increased incidence of obesity and metabolic disease underscores the importance of elucidating the biology of adipose tissue development. The recent discovery of cell surface markers for prospective identification of adipose precursor cells (APCs) in vivo will greatly facilitate these studies, yet tools for specifically targeting these cells in vivo have not been identified. Here, we survey three transgenic mouse lines, Fabp4-Cre, PdgfRα-Cre, and Prx1-Cre, precisely assessing Cre-mediated recombination in adipose stromal populations and mature tissues. Our data provide key insights into the utility of these tools to modulate gene expression in adipose tissues. In particular, Fabp4-Cre is not effective to target APCs, nor is its activity restricted to these cells. PdgfRα-Cre directs recombination in the vast majority of APCs, but also targets other populations. In contrast, adipose expression of Prx1-Cre is chiefly limited to subcutaneous inguinal APCs, which will be valuable for dissection of APC functions among adipose depots.
•Genetic tools to target adipose precursors in vivo assessed by flow cytometry•Fabp4-Cre is active only in a small subset of white adipose precursors•PdgfRα-Cre is active in nearly all white and brown adipose precursors•In adipose tissue, Prx1-Cre activity is limited to subcutaneous inguinal precursors
The discovery of cell surface markers that label adipose progenitors identifies new avenues of stem cell and metabolic research. Here, Krueger et al. use these markers to survey Cre-mediated recombination in the adipose depots of several transgenic mouse lines. These data provide key insights into the suitability of these tools to modulate gene expression in adipose tissues.
PMCID: PMC4264060  PMID: 25458893
6.  A Six Months Exercise Intervention Influences the Genome-wide DNA Methylation Pattern in Human Adipose Tissue 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(6):e1003572.
Epigenetic mechanisms are implicated in gene regulation and the development of different diseases. The epigenome differs between cell types and has until now only been characterized for a few human tissues. Environmental factors potentially alter the epigenome. Here we describe the genome-wide pattern of DNA methylation in human adipose tissue from 23 healthy men, with a previous low level of physical activity, before and after a six months exercise intervention. We also investigate the differences in adipose tissue DNA methylation between 31 individuals with or without a family history of type 2 diabetes. DNA methylation was analyzed using Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip, an array containing 485,577 probes covering 99% RefSeq genes. Global DNA methylation changed and 17,975 individual CpG sites in 7,663 unique genes showed altered levels of DNA methylation after the exercise intervention (q<0.05). Differential mRNA expression was present in 1/3 of gene regions with altered DNA methylation, including RALBP1, HDAC4 and NCOR2 (q<0.05). Using a luciferase assay, we could show that increased DNA methylation in vitro of the RALBP1 promoter suppressed the transcriptional activity (p = 0.03). Moreover, 18 obesity and 21 type 2 diabetes candidate genes had CpG sites with differences in adipose tissue DNA methylation in response to exercise (q<0.05), including TCF7L2 (6 CpG sites) and KCNQ1 (10 CpG sites). A simultaneous change in mRNA expression was seen for 6 of those genes. To understand if genes that exhibit differential DNA methylation and mRNA expression in human adipose tissue in vivo affect adipocyte metabolism, we silenced Hdac4 and Ncor2 respectively in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, which resulted in increased lipogenesis both in the basal and insulin stimulated state. In conclusion, exercise induces genome-wide changes in DNA methylation in human adipose tissue, potentially affecting adipocyte metabolism.
Author Summary
Given the important role of epigenetics in gene regulation and disease development, we here present the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern of 476,753 CpG sites in adipose tissue obtained from healthy men. Since environmental factors potentially change metabolism through epigenetic modifications, we examined if a six months exercise intervention alters the DNA methylation pattern as well as gene expression in human adipose tissue. Our results show that global DNA methylation changes and 17,975 individual CpG sites alter the levels of DNA methylation in response to exercise. We also found differential DNA methylation of 39 candidate genes for obesity and type 2 diabetes in human adipose tissue after exercise. Additionally, we provide functional proof that genes, which exhibit both differential DNA methylation and gene expression in human adipose tissue in response to exercise, influence adipocyte metabolism. Together, this study provides the first detailed map of the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern in human adipose tissue and links exercise to altered adipose tissue DNA methylation, potentially affecting adipocyte metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3694844  PMID: 23825961
7.  Activin A Plays a Critical Role in Proliferation and Differentiation of Human Adipose Progenitors 
Diabetes  2010;59(10):2513-2521.
Growth of white adipose tissue takes place in normal development and in obesity. A pool of adipose progenitors is responsible for the formation of new adipocytes and for the potential of this tissue to expand in response to chronic energy overload. However, factors controlling self-renewal of human adipose progenitors are largely unknown. We investigated the expression profile and the role of activin A in this process.
Expression of INHBA/activin A was investigated in three types of human adipose progenitors. We then analyzed at the molecular level the function of activin A during human adipogenesis. We finally investigated the status of activin A in adipose tissues of lean and obese subjects and analyzed macrophage-induced regulation of its expression.
INHBA/activin A is expressed by adipose progenitors from various fat depots, and its expression dramatically decreases as progenitors differentiate into adipocytes. Activin A regulates the number of undifferentiated progenitors. Sustained activation or inhibition of the activin A pathway impairs or promotes, respectively, adipocyte differentiation via the C/EBPβ-LAP and Smad2 pathway in an autocrine/paracrine manner. Activin A is expressed at higher levels in adipose tissue of obese patients compared with the expression levels in lean subjects. Indeed, activin A levels in adipose progenitors are dramatically increased by factors secreted by macrophages derived from obese adipose tissue.
Altogether, our data show that activin A plays a significant role in human adipogenesis. We propose a model in which macrophages that are located in adipose tissue regulate adipose progenitor self-renewal through activin A.
PMCID: PMC3279533  PMID: 20530742
8.  Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gene expression in human tissues. Effects of obesity, weight loss, and regulation by insulin and glucocorticoids. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;99(10):2416-2422.
The peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR gamma) plays a key role in adipogenesis and adipocyte gene expression and is the receptor for the thiazolidinedione class of insulin-sensitizing drugs. The tissue expression and potential for regulation of human PPAR gamma gene expression in vivo are unknown. We have cloned a partial human PPAR gamma cDNA, and established an RNase protection assay that permits simultaneous measurements of both PPAR gamma1 and PPAR gamma2 splice variants. Both gamma1 and gamma2 mRNAs were abundantly expressed in adipose tissue. PPAR gamma1 was detected at lower levels in liver and heart, whereas both gamma1 and gamma2 mRNAs were expressed at low levels in skeletal muscle. To examine the hypothesis that obesity is associated with abnormal adipose tissue expression of PPAR gamma, we quantitated PPARgamma mRNA splice variants in subcutaneous adipose tissue of 14 lean and 24 obese subjects. Adipose expression of PPARgamma 2 mRNA was increased in human obesity (14.25 attomol PPAR gamma2/18S in obese females vs 9.9 in lean, P = 0.003). This increase was observed in both male and females. In contrast, no differences were observed in PPAR gamma1/18S mRNA expression. There was a strong positive correlation (r = 0.70, P < 0.001) between the ratio of PPAR gamma2/gamma1 and the body mass index of these patients. We also observed sexually dimorphic expression with increased expression of both PPAR gamma1 and PPAR gamma2 mRNAs in the subcutaneous adipose tissue of women compared with men. To determine the effect of weight loss on PPAR gamma mRNA expression, seven additional obese subjects were fed a low calorie diet (800 Kcal) until 10% weight loss was achieved. Mean expression of adipose PPAR gamma2 mRNA fell 25% (P = 0.0250 after a 10% reduction in body weight), but then increased to pretreatment levels after 4 wk of weight maintenance. Nutritional regulation of PPAR gamma1 was not seen. In vitro experiments revealed a synergistic effect of insulin and corticosteroids to induce PPAR gamma expression in isolated human adipocytes in culture. We conclude that: (a) human PPAR gamma mRNA expression is most abundant in adipose tissue, but lower level expression of both splice variants is seen in skeletal muscle; to an extent that is unlikely to be due to adipose contamination. (b) RNA derived from adipose tissue of obese humans has increased expression of PPAR gamma 2 mRNA, as well as an increased ratio of PPAR gamma2/gamma1 splice variants that is proportional to the BMI; (c) a low calorie diet specifically down-regulates the expression of PPAR gamma2 mRNA in adipose tissue of obese humans; (d) insulin and corticosteroids synergistically induce PPAR gamma mRNA after in vitro exposure to isolated human adipocytes; and (e) the in vivo modulation of PPAR gamma2 mRNA levels is an additional level of regulation for the control of adipocyte development and function, and could provide a molecular mechanism for alterations in adipocyte number and function in obesity.
PMCID: PMC508081  PMID: 9153284
9.  IL-33 induces protective effects in adipose tissue inflammation during obesity in mice 
Circulation research  2010;107(5):650-658.
Chronic low-grade inflammation involving adipose tissue likely contributes to the metabolic consequences of obesity. The cytokine IL-33 and its receptor ST2 are expressed in adipose tissue but their role in adipose tissue inflammation during obesity is unclear.
To examine the functional role of IL-33 in adipose tissues, and investigate the effects on adipose tissue inflammation and obesity in vivo.
Methods and Results
We demonstrate that treatment of adipose tissue cultures in vitro with IL-33 induced production of Th2 cytokines (IL-5, IL-13, IL-10), and reduced expression of adipogenic and metabolic genes. Administration of recombinant IL-33 to genetically obese diabetic (ob/ob) mice led to reduced adiposity, reduced fasting glucose and improved glucose and insulin tolerance. IL-33 also induced accumulation of Th2 cells in adipose tissue and polarization of adipose tissue macrophages towards an M2 alternatively activated phenotype (CD206+), a lineage associated with protection against obesity-related metabolic events. Furthermore, mice lacking endogenous ST2 fed HFD had increased body weight and fat mass, impaired insulin secretion and glucose regulation compared to WT controls fed HFD.
In conclusion, IL-33 may play a protective role in the development of adipose tissue inflammation during obesity.
PMCID: PMC4254700  PMID: 20634488
obesity; inflammation; diabetes mellitus; interleukins
10.  High Fat Diet Induces Changes in Adipose Tissue trans-4-Oxo-2-Nonenal and trans-4-Hydroxy-2-Nonenal Levels in a Depot-Specific Manner 
Protein carbonylation is the covalent modification of proteins by α,β-unsaturated aldehydes produced by non-enzymatic lipid peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The most widely studied aldehyde product of lipid peroxidation, trans-4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE), is associated with obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction and has demonstrated reactivity toward key proteins involved in cellular function. However, 4-HNE is only one of many lipid peroxidation products and the lipid aldehyde profile in adipose tissue has not been characterized. To further understand the role of oxidative stress in obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction, a novel LC-MS/MS method was developed to evaluate aldehyde products of lipid peroxidation and applied to the analysis of adipose tissue. 4-HNE and trans-4-oxo-2-nonenal (4-ONE) were the most abundant aldehydes present in adipose tissue. In high fat fed C57Bl/6J and ob/ob mice the levels of lipid peroxidation products were increased 5–11 fold in epididymal adipose, unchanged in brown adipose but decreased in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Epididymal adipose tissue of high fat fed mice also exhibited increased levels of proteins modified by 4-HNE and 4-ONE while subcutaneous adipose tissue levels of these modifications were decreased. High fat feeding of C57Bl/6J mice resulted in decreased expression of a number of genes linked to antioxidant biology selectively in epididymal adipose tissue. Moreover, TNFα treatment of 3T3-L1 adipocytes resulted in decreased expression of GSTA4, GPx4, and Prdx3 while up regulating the expression of SOD2. These results suggest that inflammatory cytokines selectively down regulate antioxidant gene expression in visceral adipose tissue resulting in elevated lipid aldehydes and increased protein carbonylation.
PMCID: PMC3737572  PMID: 23726997
adipose; obesity; oxidative stress; 4-HNE; 4-ONE; gene expression
11.  Laminin α4 Deficient Mice Exhibit Decreased Capacity for Adipose Tissue Expansion and Weight Gain 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109854.
Obesity is a global epidemic that contributes to the increasing medical burdens related to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. A better understanding of the mechanisms regulating adipose tissue expansion could lead to therapeutics that eliminate or reduce obesity-associated morbidity and mortality. The extracellular matrix (ECM) has been shown to regulate the development and function of numerous tissues and organs. However, there is little understanding of its function in adipose tissue. In this manuscript we describe the role of laminin α4, a specialized ECM protein surrounding adipocytes, on weight gain and adipose tissue function. Adipose tissue accumulation, lipogenesis, and structure were examined in mice with a null mutation of the laminin α4 gene (Lama4−/−) and compared to wild-type (Lama4+/+) control animals. Lama4−/− mice exhibited reduced weight gain in response to both age and high fat diet. Interestingly, the mice had decreased adipose tissue mass and altered lipogenesis in a depot-specific manner. In particular, epididymal adipose tissue mass was specifically decreased in knock-out mice, and there was also a defect in lipogenesis in this depot as well. In contrast, no such differences were observed in subcutaneous adipose tissue at 14 weeks. The results suggest that laminin α4 influences adipose tissue structure and function in a depot-specific manner. Alterations in laminin composition offers insight into the roll the ECM potentially plays in modulating cellular behavior in adipose tissue expansion.
PMCID: PMC4195691  PMID: 25310607
12.  Necdin Controls Proliferation of White Adipocyte Progenitor Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30948.
White adipose tissues are composed mainly of white fat cells (adipocytes), which play a key role in energy storage and metabolism. White adipocytes are terminally differentiated postmitotic cells and arise from their progenitor cells (preadipocytes) or mesenchymal stem cells residing in white adipose tissues. Thus, white adipocyte number is most likely controlled by the rate of preadipocyte proliferation, which may contribute to the etiology of obesity. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that regulate preadipocyte proliferation during adipose tissue development. Necdin, which is expressed predominantly in postmitotic neurons, is a pleiotropic protein that possesses anti-mitotic and pro-survival activities. Here we show that necdin functions as an intrinsic regulator of white preadipocyte proliferation in developing adipose tissues. Necdin is expressed in early preadipocytes or mesenchymal stem cells residing in the stromal compartment of white adipose tissues in juvenile mice. Lentivirus-mediated knockdown of endogenous necdin expression in vivo in adipose tissues markedly increases fat mass in juvenile mice fed a high-fat diet until adulthood. Furthermore, necdin-null mutant mice exhibit a greater expansion of adipose tissues due to adipocyte hyperplasia than wild-type mice when fed the high-fat diet during the juvenile and adult periods. Adipose stromal-vascular cells prepared from necdin-null mice differentiate in vitro into a significantly larger number of adipocytes in response to adipogenic inducers than those from wild-type mice. These results suggest that necdin prevents excessive preadipocyte proliferation induced by adipogenic stimulation to control white adipocyte number during adipose tissue development.
PMCID: PMC3264651  PMID: 22292082
13.  Obesity and weight loss could alter the properties of adipose stem cells? 
World Journal of Stem Cells  2015;7(1):165-173.
The discovery that adipose tissue represents an interesting source of multipotent stem cells has led to many studies exploring the clinical potential of these cells in cell-based therapies. Recent advances in understanding the secretory capacity of adipose tissue and the role of adipokines in the development of obesity and associated disorders have added a new dimension to the study of adipose tissue biology in normal and diseased states. Subcutaneous adipose tissue forms the interface between the clinical application of regenerative medicine and the establishment of the pathological condition of obesity. These two facets of adipose tissue should be understood as potentially related phenomena. Because of the functional characteristics of adipose stem cells, these cells represent a fundamental tool for understanding how these two facets are interconnected and could be important for therapeutic applications. In fact, adipose tissue stem cells have multiple functions in obesity related to adipogenic, angiogenic and secretory capacities. In addition, we have also previously described a predominance of larger blood vessels and an adipogenic memory in the subcutaneous adipose tissue after massive weight loss subsequent to bariatric surgery (ex-obese patients). Understanding the reversibility of the behavior of adipose stem cells in obeses and in weight loss is relevant to both physiological studies and the potential use of these cells in regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC4300927  PMID: 25621116
Adipose stem cells; Subcutaneousadipose tissue; Obesity; Weight loss; Regenerative medicine
14.  Pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to influence adipose tissue function 
Obesity is associated with metabolic derangements such as insulin resistance, inflammation and hypercoagulobility which can all be understood as consequences of adipose tissue dysfunction. The potential role for adipose tissue derived cytokines and adipokines in the development of vascular disease and diabetes may produce a clinical need to influence adipose tissue function. Various pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions affect plasma cytokine and adipokine levels. The effects of these interventions depend on weight loss per se, changes in fat distribution without weight loss and/or direct effects on adipose tissue inflammation.
Weight loss, as a result of diet, pharmacology and surgery, positively influences plasma adipokines and systemic inflammation. Several classes of drugs influence systemic inflammation directly through their anti-inflammatory actions. PPAR-γ agonism positively influences adipose tissue inflammation in several classes of intervention such as the thiazolidinediones and perhaps salicylates, CB1-antagonists and angiotensin II receptor blockers. Furthermore, within drug classes there are differential effects of individual pharmacologic agents on adipose tissue function.
It can be concluded that several commonly used pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions have unintended influences on adipose tissue function. Improving adipose tissue function may contribute to reducing the risk of vascular diseases and the development of type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3039566  PMID: 21276223
15.  TAF7L modulates brown adipose tissue formation 
eLife  2014;3:e02811.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays an essential role in metabolic homeostasis by dissipating energy via thermogenesis through uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). Previously, we reported that the TATA-binding protein associated factor 7L (TAF7L) is an important regulator of white adipose tissue (WAT) differentiation. In this study, we show that TAF7L also serves as a molecular switch between brown fat and muscle lineages in vivo and in vitro. In adipose tissue, TAF7L-containing TFIID complexes associate with PPARγ to mediate DNA looping between distal enhancers and core promoter elements. Our findings suggest that the presence of the tissue-specific TAF7L subunit in TFIID functions to promote long-range chromatin interactions during BAT lineage specification.
eLife digest
Mammals produce two distinct types of adipose tissue: white adipose tissue (white fat) is the more common type and is used to store energy; brown adipose tissue (brown fat) is mostly found in young animals and infants, and it plays an important role in dissipating energy as heat rather than storing it in fat for future use. In adults, higher levels of brown fat are associated with lower levels of fat overall, so there is considerable interest in learning more about this form of fat to help address rising levels of obesity in the world.
Building on previous work in which they showed that a gene control protein called TAF7L has a central role in the development of the cells that make up white adipose tissue, Zhou et al. now show that this protein also helps to regulate the development of brown adipose tissue.
Mice lacking the gene for this protein developed embryos with 40% less brown fat than wild-type mice with the gene. Moreover, these mice developed muscle-like cells in the regions that should have contained brown fat. Gene expression analysis revealed that ‘knocking out’ the gene for TAF7L changed the expression of more than a thousand genes in these mice.
Zhou et al. suggest that TAF7L works as a ‘molecular switch’ that determines whether certain precursor cells (called mesenchymal stem cells) go on to become brown fat cells or muscle cells. A future challenge will be to devise interventions to regulate the activity or levels of TAF7L as a potential means of modulating brown fat depots in animals and humans.
PMCID: PMC4066819  PMID: 24876128
PPARγ; DNA looping; UCP1; BAT; obesity; mouse
16.  Prdm16 determines the thermogenic program of subcutaneous white adipose tissue in mice 
The white adipose organ is composed of both subcutaneous and several intra-abdominal depots. Excess abdominal adiposity is a major risk factor for metabolic disease in rodents and humans, while expansion of subcutaneous fat does not carry the same risks. Brown adipose produces heat as a defense against hypothermia and obesity, and the appearance of brown-like adipocytes within white adipose tissue depots is associated with improved metabolic phenotypes. Thus, understanding the differences in cell biology and function of these different adipose cell types and depots may be critical to the development of new therapies for metabolic disease. Here, we found that Prdm16, a brown adipose determination factor, is selectively expressed in subcutaneous white adipocytes relative to other white fat depots in mice. Transgenic expression of Prdm16 in fat tissue robustly induced the development of brown-like adipocytes in subcutaneous, but not epididymal, adipose depots. Prdm16 transgenic mice displayed increased energy expenditure, limited weight gain, and improved glucose tolerance in response to a high-fat diet. shRNA-mediated depletion of Prdm16 in isolated subcutaneous adipocytes caused a sharp decrease in the expression of thermogenic genes and a reduction in uncoupled cellular respiration. Finally, Prdm16 haploinsufficiency reduced the brown fat phenotype in white adipose tissue stimulated by β-adrenergic agonists. These results demonstrate that Prdm16 is a cell-autonomous determinant of a brown fat–like gene program and thermogenesis in subcutaneous adipose tissues.
PMCID: PMC3007155  PMID: 21123942
17.  Metabolic programming of adipose tissue structure and function in male rat offspring by prenatal undernutrition 
Nutrition & Metabolism  2014;11(1):50.
A number of different pathways to obesity with different metabolic outcomes are recognised. Prenatal undernutrition in rats leads to increased fat deposition in adulthood. However, the form of obesity is metabolically distinct from obesity induced through other pathways (e.g. diet-induced obesity). Previous rat studies have shown that maternal undernutrition during pregnancy led to insulin hyper-secretion and obesity in offspring, but not to systemic insulin resistance. Increased muscle and liver glycogen stores indicated that glucose is taken up efficiently, reflecting an active physiological function of these energy storage tissues. It is increasingly recognised that adipose tissue plays a central role in the regulation of metabolism and pathophysiology of obesity development. The present study investigated the cell size and endocrine responsiveness of subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue from prenatally undernourished rats. We aimed to identify whether these adipose tissue depots contribute to the altered energy metabolism observed in these offspring.
Adipocyte size was measured in both subcutaneous (ScAT) and retroperitoneal adipose tissue (RpAT) in male prenatally ad libitum fed (AD) or prenatally undernourished (UN) rat offspring. Metabolic responses were investigated in adipose tissue explants stimulated by insulin and beta3 receptor agonists ex vivo. Expression of markers of insulin signalling was determined by Western blot analyses. Data were analysed by unpaired t-test or Two Way ANOVA followed by Fisher’s PLSD post-hoc test, where appropriate.
Adipocytes in offspring of undernourished mothers were larger, even at a lower body weight, in both RpAT and ScAT. The insulin response of adipose tissue was reduced in ScAT, and statistically absent in RpAT of UN rats compared with control. This lack of RpAT insulin response was associated with reduced expression of insulin signalling pathway proteins. Adrenergic receptor-driven lipolysis was observed in both adipose depots; however insulin failed to express its anti-lipolytic effect in RpAT in both, AD and UN offspring.
Metabolic dysregulation in offspring of undernourished mothers is mediated by increased adipocyte size and reduced insulin responsiveness in both ScAT and especially in RpAT. These functional and morphological changes in adipocytes were accompanied by impaired activity of the insulin signalling cascade highlighting the important role of different adipose tissue depots in the pathogenesis of metabolic disorders.
PMCID: PMC4210519  PMID: 25352910
Subcutaneous adipose tissue; Retroperitoneal adipose tissue; Insulin response; Beta-adrenergic response; Prenatal undernutrition
18.  Adaptive Expression of MicroRNA-125a in Adipose Tissue in Response to Obesity in Mice and Men 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91375.
MicroRNAs are emerging as new mediators in the regulation of adipose tissue biology and the development of obesity. An important role of microRNA-125a has been suggested in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance (IR). Here, we characterized the function of microRNA-125a in adipose tissue in a context of experimentally-induced IR and obesity in mice and in obese patients. We showed time dependent overexpression of the microRNA in adipose tissue of BALB/c and C57BL/6J mice in response to high fat diet (HFD) feeding. MicroRNA-125a expression was downregulated in vitro in insulin resistant 3T3-L1 adipocytes and ex vivo in adipose tissue of obese patients. In vitro modulation of microRNA-125a expression in 3T3-L1 adipocytes did not affect glucose uptake. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) identified significantly altered expression patterns of predicted microRNA-125a gene targets in transcriptomic datasets of adipose tissue from HFD-fed mice and obese patients. Among genes that contributed to global enrichment of altered expression of microRNA-125a targets, Thyrotroph embryonic factor (Tef), Mannan-binding lectin serine peptidase 1, Reticulon 2 and Ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme E2L3 were significantly differentially expressed in adipose tissue in these groups. We showed that Tef expression is reduced in adipose tissue of obese patients following gastric bypass surgery. Our findings indicate that microRNA-125a expression in adipose tissue adapts to IR and may play a role in the development of obesity in mice and obese subjects through uncoupled regulation of the expression of microRNA-125a and its targets.
PMCID: PMC3967993  PMID: 24675842
19.  Regulation of PPAR gamma gene expression by nutrition and obesity in rodents. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;97(11):2553-2561.
The orphan nuclear receptor, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma, is implicated in mediating expression of fat-specific genes and in activating the program of adipocyte differentiation. The potential for regulation of PPAR gamma gene expression in vivo is unknown. We cloned a partial mouse PPAR gamma cDNA and developed an RNase protection assay that permits simultaneous quantitation of mRNAs for both gamma l and gamma 2 isoforms encoded by the PPAR gamma gene. Probes for detection of adipocyte P2, the obese gene product, leptin, and 18S mRNAs were also employed. Both gamma l and gamma 2 mRNAs were abundantly expressed in adipose tissue. PPAR gamma 1 expression was also detected at lower levels in liver, spleen, and heart; whereas, gamma l and gamma 2 mRNA were expressed at low levels in skeletal muscle. Adipose tissue levels of gamma l and gamma 2 were not altered in two murine models of obesity (gold thioglucose and ob/ob), but were modestly increased in mice with toxigene-induced brown fat ablation uncoupling protein diphtheria toxin A mice. Fasting (12-48 h) was associated with an 80% fall in PPAR gamma 2 and a 50% fall in PPAR gamma mRNA levels in adipose tissue. Western blot analysis demonstrated a marked effect of fasting to reduce PPAR gamma protein levels in adipose tissue. Similar effects of fasting on PPAR gamma mRNAs were noted in all three models of obesity. Insulin-deficient (streptozotocin) diabetes suppressed adipose tissue gamma l and gamma 2 expression by 75% in normal mice with partial restoration during insulin treatment. Levels of adipose tissue PPAR gamma 2 mRNA were increased by 50% in normal mice exposed to a high fat diet. In obese uncoupling protein diphtheria toxin A mice, high fat feeding resulted in de novo induction of PPAR gamma 2 expression in liver. We conclude (a) PPAR gamma 2 mRNA expression is most abundant in adipocytes in normal mice, but lower level expression is seen in skeletal muscle; (b) expression of adipose tissue gamma1 or gamma2 mRNAs is increased in only one of the three models of obesity; (c) PPAR gamma 1 and gamma 2 expression is downregulated by fasting and insulin-deficient diabetes; and (d) exposure of mice to a high fat diet increases adipose tissue expression of PPAR gamma (in normal mice) and induces PPAR gamma 2 mRNA expression in liver (in obese mice). These findings demonstrate in vivo modulation of PPAR gamma mRNA levels over a fourfold range and provide an additional level of regulation for the control of adipocyte development and function.
PMCID: PMC507341  PMID: 8647948
20.  Serum Glycine Is Associated with Regional Body Fat and Insulin Resistance in Functionally-Limited Older Adults 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84034.
Metabolic profiling may provide insight into biologic mechanisms related to age-related increases in regional adiposity and insulin resistance.
The objectives of the current study were to characterize the association between mid-thigh intermuscular and subcutaneous adipose tissue (IMAT, SCAT, respectively) and, abdominal adiposity with the serum metabolite profile, to identify significant metabolites as further associated with the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and, to develop a HOMA-IR associated metabolite predictor set representative of regional adiposity, in 73 functionally-limited (short physical performance battery ≤10; SPPB) older adults (age range, 70–85 y).
Fasting levels of 181 total metabolites, including amino acids, fatty acids and acylcarnitines were measured with use of an untargeted mass spectrometry-based metabolomic approach. Multivariable-adjusted linear regression was used in all analyses.
Thirty-two, seven and one metabolite(s) were found to be associated with IMAT, abdominal adiposity and, SCAT, respectively, including the amino acid glycine, which was positively associated with SCAT and, negatively associated with both IMAT and abdominal adiposity. Glycine and four metabolites found to be significantly associated with regional adiposity were additionally associated with HOMA-IR. Separate stepwise regression models identified glycine as a HOMA-IR associated marker of both IMAT (model R2 = 0.51, p<0.0001) and abdominal adiposity (model R2 = 0.41, p<0.0001).
Our findings for a positive association between glycine with SCAT but, a negative association between glycine with IMAT and abdominal adiposity supports the hypothesis that SCAT metabolic processes are different from that found in other fat depots. In addition, because of the significant associations found between glycine with HOMA-IR, IMAT, SCAT and abdominal adiposity, our results suggest glycine as a serum biomarker of both insulin sensitivity and regional fat mass in functionally-limited older adults.
PMCID: PMC3877144  PMID: 24391874
21.  Epigenetic Regulation of Depot-Specific Gene Expression in Adipose Tissue 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82516.
In humans, adipose tissue is distributed in subcutaneous abdominal and subcutaneous gluteal depots that comprise a variety of functional differences. Whereas energy storage in gluteal adipose tissue has been shown to mediate a protective effect, an increase of abdominal adipose tissue is associated with metabolic disorders. However, the molecular basis of depot-specific characteristics is not completely understood yet. Using array-based analyses of transcription profiles, we identified a specific set of genes that was differentially expressed between subcutaneous abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue. To investigate the role of epigenetic regulation in depot-specific gene expression, we additionally analyzed genome-wide DNA methylation patterns in abdominal and gluteal depots. By combining both data sets, we identified a highly significant set of depot-specifically expressed genes that appear to be epigenetically regulated. Interestingly, the majority of these genes form part of the homeobox gene family. Moreover, genes involved in fatty acid metabolism were also differentially expressed. Therefore we suppose that changes in gene expression profiles might account for depot-specific differences in lipid composition. Indeed, triglycerides and fatty acids of abdominal adipose tissue were more saturated compared to triglycerides and fatty acids in gluteal adipose tissue. Taken together, our results uncover clear differences between abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue on the gene expression and DNA methylation level as well as in fatty acid composition. Therefore, a detailed molecular characterization of adipose tissue depots will be essential to develop new treatment strategies for metabolic syndrome associated complications.
PMCID: PMC3855576  PMID: 24340035
22.  The polygenetically inherited metabolic syndrome of male WOKW rats is associated with enhanced autophagy in adipose tissue 
Recent studies revealed that autophagy is up-regulated in obese individuals, as evidenced by increased expression of autophagy related genes. As argued elsewhere, it is possible that initially insulin resistance functions as an adaptive mechanism to increase autophagy in order to protect cells against death. We have shown that Wistar Ottawa Karlsburg W (RT1u) rats (WOKW) develop a metabolic syndrome with insulin resistance in adipose tissue, closely resembling the human disease. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterize the autophagy phenotype in WOKW rats to clarify the interrelation between insulin resistance and autophagy in adipose tissue.
Subcutaneous and epidydimal adipose tissue samples of 5-months-old WOKW and healthy LEW.1 W male rats were investigated and protein levels (Western blot and immunhistochemistry) of key autophagy genes, including Atg5, Atg7, LC3-II/LC3-I and apoptosis marker cleaved caspase-3 were analyzed.
WOKW rats displayed a significant increase of autophagy related proteins (Atg5, Atg7) in adipose tissue compared with LEW.1 W. This increase was predominantly found in epididymal adipose tissue. Furthermore, the LC3-II/LC3-I ratio as a marker of autophagosomes was significantly up-regulated in subcutaneous adipose tissue of WOKW rats. Cleaved caspase-3 was just slightly detectable in visceral adipose tissue and not detected in subcutaneous fat.
Insulin resistance in adipose tissue of obese WOKW rats is associated with up-regulation of differing autophagy markers in visceral and subcutaneous fat depots. This fact not only qualifies the WOKW rat for further detailed analysis of genetic determinants of metabolic syndrome but also highlights its suitability for autophagy research.
PMCID: PMC3685536  PMID: 23668414
Autophagy; WOKW; Insulin resistance; Adipose tissue; Atg5; Atg7
23.  Ambient particulate air pollution induces oxidative stress and alterations of mitochondria and gene expression in brown and white adipose tissues 
Prior studies have demonstrated a link between air pollution and metabolic diseases such as type II diabetes. Changes in adipose tissue and its mitochondrial content/function are closely associated with the development of insulin resistance and attendant metabolic complications. We investigated changes in adipose tissue structure and function in brown and white adipose depots in response to chronic ambient air pollutant exposure in a rodent model.
Male ApoE knockout (ApoE-/-) mice inhaled concentrated fine ambient PM (PM < 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter; PM2.5) or filtered air (FA) for 6 hours/day, 5 days/week, for 2 months. We examined superoxide production by dihydroethidium staining; inflammatory responses by immunohistochemistry; and changes in white and brown adipocyte-specific gene profiles by real-time PCR and mitochondria by transmission electron microscopy in response to PM2.5 exposure in different adipose depots of ApoE-/- mice to understand responses to chronic inhalational stimuli.
Exposure to PM2.5 induced an increase in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in brown adipose depots. Additionally, exposure to PM2.5 decreased expression of uncoupling protein 1 in brown adipose tissue as measured by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. Mitochondrial number was significantly reduced in white (WAT) and brown adipose tissues (BAT), while mitochondrial size was also reduced in BAT. In BAT, PM2.5 exposure down-regulated brown adipocyte-specific genes, while white adipocyte-specific genes were differentially up-regulated.
PM2.5 exposure triggers oxidative stress in BAT, and results in key alterations in mitochondrial gene expression and mitochondrial alterations that are pronounced in BAT. We postulate that exposure to PM2.5 may induce imbalance between white and brown adipose tissue functionality and thereby predispose to metabolic dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3152885  PMID: 21745393
air pollution; mitochondria; adipose; oxidative stress; inflammation
24.  Switch from Stress Response to Homeobox Transcription Factors in Adipose Tissue After Profound Fat Loss 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11033.
In obesity, impaired adipose tissue function may promote secondary disease through ectopic lipid accumulation and excess release of adipokines, resulting in systemic low-grade inflammation, insulin resistance and organ dysfunction. However, several of the genes regulating adipose tissue function in obesity are yet to be identified.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In order to identify novel candidate genes that may regulate adipose tissue function, we analyzed global gene expression in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue before and one year after bariatric surgery (biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, BPD/DS) (n = 16). Adipose tissue from lean healthy individuals was also analyzed (n = 13). Two different microarray platforms (AB 1700 and Illumina) were used to measure the differential gene expression, and the results were further validated by qPCR. Surgery reduced BMI from 53.3 to 33.1 kg/m2. The majority of differentially expressed genes were down-regulated after profound fat loss, including transcription factors involved in stress response, inflammation, and immune cell function (e.g., FOS, JUN, ETS, C/EBPB, C/EBPD). Interestingly, a distinct set of genes was up-regulated after fat loss, including homeobox transcription factors (IRX3, IRX5, HOXA5, HOXA9, HOXB5, HOXC6, EMX2, PRRX1) and extracellular matrix structural proteins (COL1A1, COL1A2, COL3A1, COL5A1, COL6A3).
The data demonstrate a marked switch of transcription factors in adipose tissue after profound fat loss, providing new molecular insight into a dichotomy between stress response and metabolically favorable tissue development. Our findings implicate homeobox transcription factors as important regulators of adipose tissue function.
PMCID: PMC2882947  PMID: 20543949
25.  Role of Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue in the Pathogenesis of Insulin Resistance 
Journal of Obesity  2013;2013:489187.
Burden of obesity has increased significantly in the United States over last few decades. Association of obesity with insulin resistance and related cardiometabolic problems is well established. Traditionally, adipose tissue in visceral fat depot has been considered a major culprit in development of insulin resistance. However, growing body of the literature has suggested that adipose tissue in subcutaneous fat depot, not only due to larger volume but also due to inherent functional characteristics, can have significant impact on development of insulin resistance. There are significant differences in functional characteristics of subcutaneous abdominal/truncal versus gluteofemoral depots. Decreased capacity for adipocyte differentiation and angiogenesis along with adipocyte hypertrophy can trigger vicious cycle of inflammation in subcutaneous adipose tissue and subsequent ectopic fat deposition. It is important to shift focus from fat content to functional heterogeneity in adipose tissue depots to better understand the relative role of subcutaneous adipose tissue in metabolic complications of obesity. Therapeutic lifestyle change continues to be the most important intervention in clinical practice at any level of increased adiposity. Future pharmaceutical interventions aimed at improving adipose tissue function in various subcutaneous depots have potential to help maintain adequate insulin sensitivity and reduce risk for development of insulin resistance complications.
PMCID: PMC3649613  PMID: 23691287

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