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1.  Genomic and transcriptomic predictors of triglyceride response to regular exercise 
British journal of sports medicine  2015;49(23):1524-1531.
We performed genome-wide and transcriptome-wide profiling to identify genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the response of triglycerides (TG) to exercise training.
Plasma TG levels were measured before and after a 20-week endurance training programme in 478 white participants from the HERITAGE Family Study. Illumina HumanCNV370-Quad v3.0 BeadChips were genotyped using the Illumina BeadStation 500GX platform. Affymetrix HG-U133+2 arrays were used to quantitate gene expression levels from baseline muscle biopsies of a subset of participants (N=52). Genome-wide association study (GWAS) analysis was performed using MERLIN, while transcriptomic predictor models were developed using the R-package GALGO.
The GWAS results showed that eight SNPs were associated with TG training-response (ΔTG) at p<9.9×10−6, while another 31 SNPs showed p values <1×10−4. In multivariate regression models, the top 10 SNPs explained 32.0% of the variance in ΔTG, while conditional heritability analysis showed that four SNPs statistically accounted for all of the heritability of ΔTG. A molecular signature based on the baseline expression of 11 genes predicted 27% of ΔTG in HERITAGE, which was validated in an independent study. A composite SNP score based on the top four SNPs, each from the genomic and transcriptomic analyses, was the strongest predictor of ΔTG (R2=0.14, p=3.0×10−68).
Our results indicate that skeletal muscle transcript abundance at 11 genes and SNPs at a number of loci contribute to TG response to exercise training. Combining data from genomics and transcriptomics analyses identified a SNP-based gene signature that should be further tested in independent samples.
PMCID: PMC4672639  PMID: 26491034
2.  Synchronized human skeletal myotubes of lean, obese and type 2 diabetic patients maintain circadian oscillation of clock genes 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:35047.
Cell and animal studies have demonstrated that circadian rhythm is governed by autonomous rhythmicity of clock genes. Although disturbances in circadian rhythm have been implicated in metabolic disease development, it remains unknown whether muscle circadian rhythm is altered in human models of type 2 diabetes. Here we used human primary myotubes (HPM) to investigate if rhythmicity of clock- and metabolic gene expression is altered in donors with obesity or type 2 diabetes compared to metabolically healthy donors. HPM were obtained from skeletal muscle biopsies of four groups: type 2 diabetic patients and their BMI- and age-matched obese controls and from lean, healthy and young endurance trained athletes and their age-matched sedentary controls. HPM were differentiated for 7 days before synchronization by serum shock followed by gene expression profiling over the next 72 hours. HPM display robust circadian rhythms in clock genes, but REVERBA displayed dampened rhythmicity in type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, rhythmicity in NAMPT and SIRT1 expression was only observed in HPM from trained athletes. Rhythmicity in expression of key-regulators of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism was modest. We demonstrate that in human skeletal muscle REVERBA/B, NAMPT and SIRT1 circadian rhythms are affected in donors of sedentary life style and poor health status.
PMCID: PMC5069469  PMID: 27756900
3.  Quantum coherence spectroscopy to measure dietary fat retention in the liver 
JCI Insight  null;1(13):e84671.
The prevalence of fatty liver reaches alarming proportions. Fatty liver increases the risk for insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Although extensively studied in a preclinical setting, the lack of noninvasive methodologies hampers our understanding of which pathways promote hepatic fat accumulation in humans. Dietary fat retention is one of the pathways that may lead to fatty liver. The low (1.1%) natural abundance (NA) of carbon-13 (13C) allows use of 13C-enriched lipids for in vivo MR studies. Successful implementation of such methodology, however, is challenging due to low sensitivity of 13C-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (13C-MRS). Here, we investigated the use of 1-dimensional gradient enhanced heteronuclear single quantum coherence (ge-HSQC) spectroscopy for the in vivo detection of hepatic 1H-[13C]-lipid signals after a single high-fat meal with 13C-labeled fatty acids in 5 lean and 6 obese subjects. Postprandial retention of orally administered 13C-labeled fatty acids was significant (P < 0.01). Approximately 1.5% of the tracer was retained in the liver after 6 hours, and retention was similar in both groups (P = 0.92). Thus, a substantial part of the liver fat can originate directly from storage of meal-derived fat. The ge-HSQC can be used to noninvasively reveal the contribution of dietary fat to the development of hepatic steatosis over time.
An indirect 13C-MR spectroscopy method for dietary fatty acid tracking with uniformly labeled fatty acids.
PMCID: PMC5035097  PMID: 27699229
4.  Effects of exercise training on intrahepatic lipid content in humans 
Diabetologia  2016;59(10):2068-2079.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) is the most common liver disorder in western society. Various factors may play a role in determining hepatic fat content, such as delivery of lipids to the liver, de novo lipogenesis, hepatic lipid oxidation, secretion of intrahepatic lipids to the circulation or a combination of these. If delivery of lipids to the liver outweighs the sum of hepatic lipid oxidation and secretion, the intrahepatic lipid (IHL) content starts to increase and NAFL may develop. NAFL is closely related to obesity and insulin resistance and a fatty liver increases the vulnerability to type 2 diabetes development. Exercise training is a cornerstone in the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes. There is a large body of literature describing the beneficial metabolic consequences of exercise training on skeletal muscle metabolism. Recent studies have started to investigate the effects of exercise training on liver metabolism but data is still limited. Here, first, we briefly discuss the routes by which IHL content is modulated. Second, we review whether and how these contributing routes might be modulated by long-term exercise training. Third, we focus on the effects of acute exercise on IHL metabolism, since exercise also might affect hepatic metabolism in the physically active state. This will give insight into whether the effect of exercise training on IHL could be explained by the accumulated effect of acute bouts of exercise, or whether adaptations might occur only after long-term exercise training. The primary focus of this review will be on observations made in humans. Where human data is missing, data obtained from well-accepted animal models will be used.
PMCID: PMC5016557  PMID: 27393135
Exercise; Human; Insulin sensitivity and resistance; Lipid metabolism; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Prediction and prevention of type 2 diabetes; Review
5.  Carnitine Acetyltransferase Mitigates Metabolic Inertia and Muscle Fatigue During Exercise 
Cell metabolism  2015;22(1):65-76.
Acylcarnitine metabolites have gained attention as biomarkers of nutrient stress, but their physiological relevance and metabolic purpose remain poorly understood. Short chain carnitine conjugates, including acetylcarnitine, derive from their corresponding acyl-CoA precursors via the action of carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT), a bidirectional mitochondrial matrix enzyme. We show here that contractile activity reverses acetylcarnitine flux in muscle, from net production and efflux at rest to net uptake and consumption during exercise. Disruption of this switch in mice with muscle-specific CrAT deficiency resulted in acetyl-CoA deficit, perturbed energy charge and diminished exercise tolerance, whereas acetylcarnitine supplementation produced opposite outcomes in a CrAT-dependent manner. Likewise, in exercise-trained compared to untrained humans, post-exercise phosphocreatine recovery rates were positively associated with CrAT activity and coincided with dramatic shifts in muscle acetylcarnitine dynamics. These findings show acetylcarnitine serves as a critical acetyl buffer for working muscles and provide insight into potential therapeutic strategies for combatting exercise intolerance.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC4754082  PMID: 26154055
6.  Demonstration of a day-night rhythm in human skeletal muscle oxidative capacity 
Molecular Metabolism  2016;5(8):635-645.
A disturbed day-night rhythm is associated with metabolic perturbations that can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In skeletal muscle, a reduced oxidative capacity is also associated with the development of T2DM. However, whether oxidative capacity in skeletal muscle displays a day-night rhythm in humans has so far not been investigated.
Lean, healthy subjects were enrolled in a standardized living protocol with regular meals, physical activity and sleep to reflect our everyday lifestyle. Mitochondrial oxidative capacity was examined in skeletal muscle biopsies taken at five time points within a 24-hour period.
Core-body temperature was lower during the early night, confirming a normal day-night rhythm. Skeletal muscle oxidative capacity demonstrated a robust day-night rhythm, with a significant time effect in ADP-stimulated respiration (state 3 MO, state 3 MOG and state 3 MOGS, p < 0.05). Respiration was lowest at 1 PM and highest at 11 PM (state 3 MOGS: 80.6 ± 4.0 vs. 95.8 ± 4.7 pmol/mg/s). Interestingly, the fluctuation in mitochondrial function was also observed in whole-body energy expenditure, with peak energy expenditure at 11 PM and lowest energy expenditure at 4 AM (p < 0.001). In addition, we demonstrate rhythmicity in mRNA expression of molecular clock genes in human skeletal muscle.
Our results suggest that the biological clock drives robust rhythms in human skeletal muscle oxidative metabolism. It is tempting to speculate that disruption of these rhythms contribute to the deterioration of metabolic health associated with circadian misalignment.
Graphical abstract
•Mitochondrial oxidative capacity in human skeletal muscle follows a day-night rhythm.•Oxidative capacity peaks in the late evening and is lowest in the early afternoon.•Energy expenditure follows a day-night rhythm and is highest in the late evening.•Human muscle exhibits rhythmic gene expression, with a cycling core molecular clock.
PMCID: PMC5021670  PMID: 27656401
Biological rhythm; Mitochondria; Oxidative capacity; Skeletal muscle; Energy metabolism; Molecular clock; BMAL1, brain and muscle ARNT-like 1; BMI, body mass index; CLOCK, circadian locomotor output cycles kaput; CRY, cryptochrome; FCCP, carbonyl cyanide-4-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone; NADH, reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide; PER, period; RER, respiratory exchange ratio; RT-QPCR, Real-Time Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction; T2DM, type 2 diabetes mellitus; TCA cycle, tricarboxylic acid cycle
7.  Evidence for a Direct Effect of the NAD+ Precursor Acipimox on Muscle Mitochondrial Function in Humans 
Diabetes  2014;64(4):1193-1201.
Recent preclinical studies showed the potential of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) precursors to increase oxidative phosphorylation and improve metabolic health, but human data are lacking. We hypothesize that the nicotinic acid derivative acipimox, an NAD+ precursor, would directly affect mitochondrial function independent of reductions in nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations. In a multicenter randomized crossover trial, 21 patients with type 2 diabetes (age 57.7 ± 1.1 years, BMI 33.4 ± 0.8 kg/m2) received either placebo or acipimox 250 mg three times daily dosage for 2 weeks. Acipimox treatment increased plasma NEFA levels (759 ± 44 vs. 1,135 ± 97 μmol/L for placebo vs. acipimox, P < 0.01) owing to a previously described rebound effect. As a result, skeletal muscle lipid content increased and insulin sensitivity decreased. Despite the elevated plasma NEFA levels, ex vivo mitochondrial respiration in skeletal muscle increased. Subsequently, we showed that acipimox treatment resulted in a robust elevation in expression of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial gene sets and a mitonuclear protein imbalance, which may indicate activation of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response. Further studies in C2C12 myotubes confirmed a direct effect of acipimox on NAD+ levels, mitonuclear protein imbalance, and mitochondrial oxidative capacity. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate that NAD+ boosters can also directly affect skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in humans.
PMCID: PMC4375076  PMID: 25352640
8.  A genistein-enriched diet neither improves skeletal muscle oxidative capacity nor prevents the transition towards advanced insulin resistance in ZDF rats 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:22854.
Genistein, a natural food compound mainly present in soybeans, is considered a potent antioxidant and to improve glucose homeostasis. However, its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Here, we analyzed whether genistein could antagonize the progression of the hyperinsulinemic normoglycemic state (pre-diabetes) toward full-blown T2DM in Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rats by decreasing mitochondrial oxidative stress and improving skeletal muscle oxidative capacity. Rats were assigned to three groups: (1) lean control (CNTL), (2) fa/fa CNTL, and (3) fa/fa genistein (GEN). GEN animals were subjected to a 0.02% (w/w) genistein-enriched diet for 8 weeks, whereas CNTL rats received a standard diet. We show that genistein did not affect the overall response to a glucose challenge in ZDF rats. In fact, genistein may exacerbate glucose intolerance as fasting glucose levels were significantly higher in fa/fa GEN (17.6 ± 0.7 mM) compared with fa/fa CNTL animals (14.9 ± 1.4 mM). Oxidative stress, established by electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy, carbonylated protein content and UCP3 levels, remained unchanged upon dietary genistein supplementation. Furthermore, respirometry measurements revealed no effects of genistein on mitochondrial function. In conclusion, dietary genistein supplementation did not improve glucose homeostasis, alleviate oxidative stress, or augment skeletal muscle metabolism in ZDF rats.
PMCID: PMC4789602  PMID: 26973284
9.  Thyroid Hormone Activates Brown Adipose Tissue and Increases Non-Shivering Thermogenesis - A Cohort Study in a Group of Thyroid Carcinoma Patients 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0145049.
Thyroid hormone receptors are present on brown adipose tissue (BAT), indicating a role for thyroid hormone in the regulation of BAT activation. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of thyroid hormone withdrawal followed by thyroid hormone in TSH-suppressive dosages, on energy expenditure and brown adipose tissue activity.
This study was a longitudinal study in an academic center, with a follow-up period of 6 months. Ten patients with well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma eligible for surgical treatment and subsequent radioactive iodine ablation therapy were studied in a hypothyroid state after thyroidectomy and in a subclinical hyperthyroid state (TSH-suppression according to treatment protocol). Paired two-tailed t-tests and linear regression analyses were used.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) was significantly higher after treatment with synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine) than in the hypothyroid state (BMR 3.8 ± 0.5 kJ/min versus 4.4 ± 0.6 kJ/min, P = 0.012), and non-shivering thermogenesis (NST) significantly increased from 15 ± 10% to 25 ± 6% (P = 0.009). Mean BAT activity was significantly higher in the subclinical hyperthyroid state than in the hypothyroid state (BAT standard uptake value (SUVMean) 4.0 ± 2.9 versus 2.4 ± 1.8, P = 0.039).
Our study shows that higher levels of thyroid hormone are associated with a higher level of cold-activated BAT.
Trial Registration NCT02499471
PMCID: PMC4718641  PMID: 26784028
10.  Lack of UCP3 does not affect skeletal muscle mitochondrial function under lipid-challenged conditions, but leads to sudden cardiac death 
Basic research in cardiology  2014;109(6):447.
UCP3's exact physiological function in lipid handling in skeletal and cardiac muscle remains unknown. Interestingly, etomoxir, a fat oxidation inhibitor and strong inducer of UCP3, is proposed for treating both diabetes and heart failure. We hypothesize that the upregulation of UCP3 upon etomoxir serves to protect mitochondria against lipotoxicity. To evaluate UCP3's role in skeletal muscle (skm) and heart under lipid-challenged conditions, the effect of UCP3 ablation was examined in a state of dysbalance between fat availability and oxidative capacity. Wild type (WT) and UCP3−/− mice were subjected to high-fat feeding for 14 days. From day 6 onwards, they were given either saline or etomoxir. Etomoxir treatment induced an increase in markers of lipotoxicity in skm compared to saline. This increase upon etomoxir was similar for both, WT and UCP3−/− mice, suggesting that UCP3 does not play a role in protection against lipotoxicity. Interestingly, we observed 25 % mortality in UCP3−/−s upon etomoxir administration vs. 11 % in WTs. This increased mortality in UCP3−/− compared to WT mice could not be explained by differences in cardiac lipotoxicity, apoptosis, fibrosis (histology, immunohisto-chemistry), oxidative capacity (respirometry) or function (echocardiography). Electrophysiology demonstrated, however, prolonged QRS and QTc intervals and greater susceptibility to ventricular tachycardia upon programmed electrical stimulation in etomoxir-treated UCP3−/−s versus WTs. Isoproterenol administration after pacing resulted in 75 % mortality in UCP3−/−s vs. 14 % in WTs. Our results argue against a protective role for UCP3 on skm metabolism under lipid overload, but suggest UCP3 to be crucial in prevention of arrhythmias upon lipid-challenged conditions.
PMCID: PMC4329241  PMID: 25344084
Arrhythmia; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Muscle; Uncoupling protein
12.  Pharmacological Inhibition of Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerases Improves Fitness and Mitochondrial Function in Skeletal Muscle 
Cell metabolism  2014;19(6):1034-1041.
We previously demonstrated that the deletion of the poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (Parp)-1 gene in mice enhances oxidative metabolism, thereby protecting against diet-induced obesity. However, the therapeutic use of PARP inhibitors to enhance mitochondrial function remains to be explored. Here, we show tight negative correlation between Parp-1 expression and energy expenditure in heterogeneous mouse populations, indicating that variations in PARP-1 activity have an impact on metabolic homeostasis. Notably, these genetic correlations can be translated into pharmacological applications. Long-term treatment with PARP inhibitors enhances fitness in mice by increasing the abundance of mitochondrial respiratory complexes and boosting mitochondrial respiratory capacity. Furthermore, PARP inhibitors reverse mitochondrial defects in primary myotubes of obese humans and attenuate genetic defects of mitochondrial metabolism in human fibroblasts and C. elegans. Overall, our work validates in worm, mouse and human models that PARP inhibition may be used to treat both genetic and acquired muscle dysfunction linked to defective mitochondrial function.
PMCID: PMC4047186  PMID: 24814482
13.  Serum FGF21 levels are associated with brown adipose tissue activity in humans 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:10275.
The obesity pandemic has spurred a need for novel therapies to prevent and treat metabolic complications. The recent rediscovery of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in humans made this tissue a possible therapeutic target, due to its potentially substantial contributions to energy homeostasis. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) has been identified as a facilitator of cold-induced thermogenesis in humans. Furthermore, pre-clinical studies revealed that FGF21 administration leads to improvement in the metabolic consequences of obesity, such as dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes. Here we studied plasma FGF21 levels in two cohorts of human subjects, in whom BAT activity was determined using an individualized cooling protocol by [18F]FDG-PET/CT scan. Importantly, we found that circulating FGF21 levels correlated with BAT activity during acute cold exposure in male subjects. In addition, FGF21 levels were related to the change in core temperature upon acute cold exposure, indicating a role for FGF21 in maintaining normothermia, possibly via activation of BAT. Furthermore, cold acclimation increased BAT activity in parallel with increased FGF21 levels. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that FGF21 levels in humans are related to BAT activity, suggesting that FGF21 may represent a novel mechanism via which BAT activity in humans may be enhanced.
PMCID: PMC4434994  PMID: 25985218
14.  Long–echo time MR spectroscopy for skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine detection 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(11):4915-4925.
Animal models suggest that acetylcarnitine production is essential for maintaining metabolic flexibility and insulin sensitivity. Because current methods to detect acetylcarnitine involve biopsy of the tissue of interest, noninvasive alternatives to measure acetylcarnitine concentrations could facilitate our understanding of its physiological relevance in humans. Here, we investigated the use of long–echo time (TE) proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) to measure skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine concentrations on a clinical 3T scanner. We applied long-TE 1H-MRS to measure acetylcarnitine in endurance-trained athletes, lean and obese sedentary subjects, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients to cover a wide spectrum in insulin sensitivity. A long-TE 1H-MRS protocol was implemented for successful detection of skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine in these individuals. There were pronounced differences in insulin sensitivity, as measured by hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, and skeletal muscle mitochondrial function, as measured by phosphorus-MRS (31P-MRS), across groups. Insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function were highest in trained athletes and lowest in T2DM patients. Skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine concentration showed a reciprocal distribution, with mean acetylcarnitine concentration correlating with mean insulin sensitivity in each group. These results demonstrate that measuring acetylcarnitine concentrations with 1H-MRS is feasible on clinical MR scanners and support the hypothesis that T2DM patients are characterized by a decreased formation of acetylcarnitine, possibly underlying decreased insulin sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC4347229  PMID: 25271624
15.  Reduced Incorporation of Fatty Acids Into Triacylglycerol in Myotubes From Obese Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2014;63(5):1583-1593.
Altered skeletal muscle lipid metabolism is a hallmark feature of type 2 diabetes (T2D). We investigated muscle lipid turnover in T2D versus BMI-matched control subjects (controls) and examined whether putative in vivo differences would be preserved in the myotubes. Male obese T2D individuals (n = 6) and BMI-matched controls (n = 6) underwent a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, VO2max test, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, underwater weighing, and muscle biopsy of the vastus lateralis. 14C-palmitate and 14C-oleate oxidation rates and incorporation into lipids were measured in muscle tissue as well as in primary myotubes. Palmitate oxidation (controls: 0.99 ± 0.17 nmol/mg protein; T2D: 0.53 ± 0.07 nmol/mg protein; P = 0.03) and incorporation of fatty acids (FAs) into triacylglycerol (TAG) (controls: 0.45 ± 0.13 nmol/mg protein; T2D: 0.11 ± 0.02 nmol/mg protein; P = 0.047) were significantly reduced in muscle homogenates of T2D. These reductions were not retained for palmitate oxidation in primary myotubes (P = 0.38); however, incorporation of FAs into TAG was lower in T2D (P = 0.03 for oleate and P = 0.11 for palmitate), with a strong correlation of TAG incorporation between muscle tissue and primary myotubes (r = 0.848, P = 0.008). The data indicate that the ability to incorporate FAs into TAG is an intrinsic feature of human muscle cells that is reduced in individuals with T2D.
PMCID: PMC4023412  PMID: 24487026
16.  Blocking the Entrance to Open the Gate 
Diabetes  2013;62(3):703-705.
PMCID: PMC3581194  PMID: 23431016
17.  Rev-erb-α modulates skeletal muscle oxidative capacity by regulating mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy 
Nature medicine  2013;19(8):1039-1046.
The nuclear receptor Rev-erb-α modulates hepatic lipid and glucose metabolism, adipogenesis and the inflammatory response in macrophages. We show here that Rev-erb-α is highly expressed in oxidative skeletal muscle and plays a role in mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative function, in gain- and loss-of function studies. Rev-erb-α-deficiency in skeletal muscle leads to reduced mitochondrial content and oxidative function, resulting in compromised exercise capacity. This phenotype was recapitulated in isolated fibers and in muscle cells upon Rev-erbα knock-down, while Rev-erb-α over-expression increased the number of mitochondria with improved respiratory capacity. Rev-erb-α-deficiency resulted in deactivation of the Stk11–Ampk–Sirt1–Ppargc1-α signaling pathway, whereas autophagy was up-regulated, resulting in both impaired mitochondrial biogenesis and increased clearance. Muscle over-expression or pharmacological activation of Rev-erb-α increased respiration and exercise capacity. This study identifies Rev-erb-α as a pharmacological target which improves muscle oxidative function by modulating gene networks controlling mitochondrial number and function.
PMCID: PMC3737409  PMID: 23852339
Rev-erb-α; skeletal muscle; oxidative capacity; mitochondrial biogenesis; autophagy
18.  Calorie restriction-like effects of 30 days of Resveratrol (resVida™) supplementation on energy metabolism and metabolic profile in obese humans 
Cell metabolism  2011;14(5):10.1016/j.cmet.2011.10.002.
Resveratrol is a natural compound that affects energy metabolism and mitochondrial function and serves as a calorie restriction mimetic, at least in animal models of obesity. Here we treated 11 healthy, obese men with placebo and 150 mg/day resveratrol in a randomized double-blind cross-over study for 30 days. Resveratrol significantly reduced sleeping- and resting metabolic rate. In muscle, resveratrol activated AMPK, increased SIRT1 and PGC-1α protein levels, increased citrate synthase activity without change in mitochondrial content, and improved muscle mitochondrial respiration on a fatty acid-derived substrate. Furthermore, resveratrol elevated intramyocellular lipid levels, and decreased intrahepatic lipid content, circulating glucose, triglycerides, alanine-aminotransferase, and inflammation markers. Systolic blood pressure dropped and HOMA index improved after resveratrol. In the postprandial state, adipose tissue lipolysis and plasma fatty acid and glycerol decreased. In conclusion, we demonstrate that 30 days of resveratrol supplementation induces metabolic changes in obese humans, mimicking the effects of calorie restriction.
PMCID: PMC3880862  PMID: 22055504
19.  Systemic β-Adrenergic Stimulation of Thermogenesis Is Not Accompanied by Brown Adipose Tissue Activity in Humans 
Diabetes  2012;61(12):3106-3113.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is currently considered as a target to combat obesity and diabetes in humans. BAT is densely innervated by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and can be stimulated by β-adrenergic agonists, at least in animals. However, the exact role of the β-adrenergic part of the SNS in BAT activation in humans is not known yet. In this study, we measured BAT activity by 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-d-glucose ([18F]FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging in 10 lean men during systemic infusion of the nonselective β-agonist isoprenaline (ISO) and compared this with cold-activated BAT activity. ISO successfully mimicked sympathetic stimulation as shown by increased cardiovascular and metabolic activity. Energy expenditure increased to similar levels as during cold exposure. Surprisingly, BAT was not activated during β-adrenergic stimulation. We next examined whether the high plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels induced by ISO competed with glucose ([18F]FDG) uptake in BAT locations by blocking lipolysis with acipimox (ACI). ACI successfully lowered plasma FFA, but did not increase [18F]FDG-uptake in BAT. We therefore conclude that systemic nonselective β-adrenergic stimulation by ISO at concentrations that increase energy expenditure to the same extent as cold exposure does not activate BAT in humans, indicating that other tissues are responsible for the increased β-adrenergic thermogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3501890  PMID: 22872233
20.  Perilipin 2 Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Skeletal Muscle Despite Elevated Intramuscular Lipid Levels 
Diabetes  2012;61(11):2679-2690.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by excessive lipid storage in skeletal muscle. Excessive intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) storage exceeds intracellular needs and induces lipotoxic events, ultimately contributing to the development of insulin resistance. Lipid droplet (LD)–coating proteins may control proper lipid storage in skeletal muscle. Perilipin 2 (PLIN2/adipose differentiation–related protein [ADRP]) is one of the most abundantly expressed LD-coating proteins in skeletal muscle. Here we examined the role of PLIN2 in myocellular lipid handling and insulin sensitivity by investigating the effects of in vitro PLIN2 knockdown and in vitro and in vivo overexpression. PLIN2 knockdown decreased LD formation and triacylglycerol (TAG) storage, marginally increased fatty-acid (FA) oxidation, and increased incorporation of palmitate into diacylglycerols and phospholipids. PLIN2 overexpression in vitro increased intramyocellular TAG storage paralleled with improved insulin sensitivity. In vivo muscle-specific PLIN2 overexpression resulted in increased LD accumulation and blunted the high-fat diet–induced increase in protein content of the subunits of the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) chain. Diacylglycerol levels were unchanged, whereas ceramide levels were increased. Despite the increased IMCL accumulation, PLIN2 overexpression improved skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity. We conclude that PLIN2 is essential for lipid storage in skeletal muscle by enhancing the partitioning of excess FAs toward TAG storage in LDs, thereby blunting lipotoxicity-associated insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3478528  PMID: 22807032
21.  High Oxidative Capacity Due to Chronic Exercise Training Attenuates Lipid-Induced Insulin Resistance 
Diabetes  2012;61(10):2472-2478.
Fat accumulation in skeletal muscle combined with low mitochondrial oxidative capacity is associated with insulin resistance (IR). Endurance-trained athletes, characterized by a high oxidative capacity, have elevated intramyocellular lipids, yet are highly insulin sensitive. We tested the hypothesis that a high oxidative capacity could attenuate lipid-induced IR. Nine endurance-trained (age = 23.4 ± 0.9 years; BMI = 21.2 ± 0.6 kg/m2) and 10 untrained subjects (age = 21.9 ± 0.9 years; BMI = 22.8 ± 0.6 kg/m2) were included and underwent a clamp with either infusion of glycerol or intralipid. Muscle biopsies were taken to perform high-resolution respirometry and protein phosphorylation/expression. Trained subjects had ∼32% higher mitochondrial capacity and ∼22% higher insulin sensitivity (P < 0.05 for both). Lipid infusion reduced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by 63% in untrained subjects (P < 0.05), whereas this effect was blunted in trained subjects (29%, P < 0.05). In untrained subjects, lipid infusion reduced oxidative and nonoxidative glucose disposal (NOGD), whereas trained subjects were completely protected against lipid-induced reduction in NOGD, supported by dephosphorylation of glycogen synthase. We conclude that chronic exercise training attenuates lipid-induced IR and specifically attenuates the lipid-induced reduction in NOGD. Signaling data support the notion that high glucose uptake in trained subjects is maintained by shuttling glucose toward storage as glycogen.
PMCID: PMC3447923  PMID: 22787138
22.  Beige Adipocytes are a Distinct Type of Thermogenic Fat Cell in Mouse and Human 
Cell  2012;150(2):366-376.
Brown fat defends against hypothermia and obesity through thermogenesis mediated by mitochondrial UCP1. Recent data suggest that there are two distinct types of brown fat: classical brown fat derived from a myf-5 cellular lineage and UCP1-positive cells that emerge in white fat from a non-myf-5 lineage. Here we report the cloning of “beige” cells from murine white fat depots. Beige cells resemble white fat cells in having extremely low basal expression of UCP1, but like classical brown fat, they respond to cyclic AMP stimulation with high UCP1 expression and respiration rates. Beige cells have a gene expression pattern distinct from either white or brown fat and are preferentially sensitive to the polypeptide hormone irisin. Finally, we show that deposits of brown fat previously observed in adult humans are composed of beige adipose cells. These data illustrate a new cell type with therapeutic potential in mouse and human.
PMCID: PMC3402601  PMID: 22796012
23.  Cold acclimation recruits human brown fat and increases nonshivering thermogenesis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(8):3395-3403.
In recent years, it has been shown that humans have active brown adipose tissue (BAT) depots, raising the question of whether activation and recruitment of BAT can be a target to counterbalance the current obesity pandemic. Here, we show that a 10-day cold acclimation protocol in humans increases BAT activity in parallel with an increase in nonshivering thermogenesis (NST). No sex differences in BAT presence and activity were found either before or after cold acclimation. Respiration measurements in permeabilized fibers and isolated mitochondria revealed no significant contribution of skeletal muscle mitochondrial uncoupling to the increased NST. Based on cell-specific markers and on uncoupling protein-1 (characteristic of both BAT and beige/brite cells), this study did not show “browning” of abdominal subcutaneous white adipose tissue upon cold acclimation. The observed physiological acclimation is in line with the subjective changes in temperature sensation; upon cold acclimation, the subjects judged the environment warmer, felt more comfortable in the cold, and reported less shivering. The combined results suggest that a variable indoor environment with frequent cold exposures might be an acceptable and economic manner to increase energy expenditure and may contribute to counteracting the current obesity epidemic.
PMCID: PMC3726172  PMID: 23867626
24.  Relationship of C5L2 Receptor to Skeletal Muscle Substrate Utilization 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57494.
To investigate the role of Acylation Stimulating Protein (ASP) receptor C5L2 in skeletal muscle fatty acid accumulation and metabolism as well as insulin sensitivity in both mice and human models of diet-induced insulin resistance.
Design and Methods
Male wildtype (WT) and C5L2 knockout (KO) mice were fed a low (LFD) or a high (HFD) fat diet for 10 weeks. Intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) accumulation (by oil red O staining) and beta-oxidation HADH enzyme activity were determined in skeletal muscle. Mitochondria were isolated from hindleg muscles for high-resolution respirometry. Muscle C5L2 protein content was also determined in obese type 2 diabetics and age- and BMI matched men.
IMCL levels were increased by six-fold in C5L2KO-HFD compared to WT-HFD mice (p<0.05) and plasma insulin levels were markedly increased in C5L2KO-HFD mice (twofold, p<0.05). Muscle HADH activity was elevated in C5L2KO-LFD mice (+75%, p<0.001 vs. WT-LFD) and C5L2KO-HFD displayed increased mitochondrial fatty acid oxidative capacity compared to WT-HFD mice (+23%, p<0.05). In human subjects, C5L2 protein content was reduced (−48%, p<0.01) in type 2 diabetic patients when compared to obese controls. Further, exercise training increased C5L2 (+45%, p = 0.0019) and ASP (+80%, p<0.001) in obese insulin-resistant men.
The results suggest that insulin sensitivity may be permissive for coupling of C5L2 levels to lipid storage and utilization.
PMCID: PMC3583831  PMID: 23460866
25.  Relationships between Mitochondrial Function and Metabolic Flexibility in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e51648.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, lipid accumulation, insulin resistance and metabolic inflexibility have been implicated in the etiology of type 2 diabetes (T2D), yet their interrelationship remains speculative. We investigated these interrelationships in a group of T2D and obese normoglycemic control subjects.
49 non-insulin dependent male T2D patients and 54 male control subjects were enrolled, and a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp and indirect calorimetry were performed. A muscle biopsy was taken and intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) was measured. In vivo mitochondrial function was measured by PCr recovery in 30 T2D patients and 31 control subjects.
Fasting NEFA levels were significantly elevated in T2D patients compared with controls, but IMCL was not different. Mitochondrial function in T2D patients was compromised by 12.5% (p<0.01). Whole body glucose disposal (WGD) was higher at baseline and lower after insulin stimulation. Metabolic flexibility (ΔRER) was lower in the type 2 diabetic patients (0.050±0.033 vs. 0.093±0.050, p<0.01). Mitochondrial function was the sole predictor of basal respiratory exchange ratio (RER) (R2 = 0.18, p<0.05); whereas WGD predicted both insulin-stimulated RER (R2 = 0.29, p<0.001) and metabolic flexibility (R2 = 0.40, p<0.001).
These results indicate that defects in skeletal muscle in vivo mitochondrial function in type 2 diabetic patients are only reflected in basal substrate oxidation and highlight the importance of glucose disposal rate as a determinant of substrate utilization in response to insulin.
PMCID: PMC3572106  PMID: 23418416

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