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1.  Metabolic Profiles Predict Adverse Events Following Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting 
Clinical models incompletely predict outcomes following coronary artery bypass grafting. Novel molecular technologies may identify biomarkers to improve risk stratification. We examined whether metabolic profiles can predict adverse events in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.
The study population comprised 478 subjects from the CATHGEN biorepository of patients referred for cardiac catheterization who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting after enrollment. Targeted mass spectrometry-based profiling of 69 metabolites was performed in frozen, fasting plasma samples collected prior to surgery. Principal-components analysis and Cox proportional hazards regression modeling were used to assess the relation between metabolite factor levels and a composite outcome of post-coronary artery bypass grafting myocardial infarction, need for percutaneous coronary intervention, repeat coronary artery bypass grafting, or death.
Over a mean follow-up of 4.3 ± 2.4 years, 126 subjects (26.4%) suffered an adverse event. Three principal-components analysis-derived factors were significantly associated with adverse outcome in univariable analysis: short-chain dicarboxylacylcarnitines (factor 2, P=0.001); ketone-related metabolites (factor 5, P=0.02); and short-chain acylcarnitines (factor 6, P=0.004). These three factors remained independently predictive of adverse outcome after multivariable adjustment: factor 2 (adjusted hazard ratio 1.23; 95% confidence interval [1.10-1.38]; P<0.001), factor 5 (1.17 [1.01-1.37], P=0.04), and factor 6 (1.14 [1.02-1.27], P=0.03).
Metabolic profiles are independently associated with adverse outcomes following coronary artery bypass grafting. These profiles may represent novel biomarkers of risk that augment existing tools for risk stratification of coronary artery bypass grafting patients and may elucidate novel biochemical pathways that mediate risk.
PMCID: PMC3324120  PMID: 22306227
2.  High heritability of metabolomic profiles in families burdened with premature cardiovascular disease 
Integration of genetic and metabolic profiling holds promise for providing insight into human disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is strongly heritable, but the heritability of metabolomic profiles has not been evaluated in humans. We performed quantitative mass spectrometry-based metabolic profiling in 117 individuals within eight multiplex families from the GENECARD study of premature CAD. Heritabilities were calculated using variance components. We found high heritabilities for amino acids (arginine, ornithine, alanine, proline, leucine/isoleucine, valine, glutamate/glutamine, phenylalanine and glycine; h2=0.33–0.80, P=0.005–1.9 × 10−16), free fatty acids (arachidonic, palmitic, linoleic; h2=0.48–0.59, P=0.002–0.00005) and acylcarnitines (h2=0.23–0.79, P=0.05–0.0000002). Principal components analysis was used to identify metabolite clusters. Reflecting individual metabolites, several components were heritable, including components comprised of ketones, β-hydroxybutyrate and C2-acylcarnitine (h2=0.61); short- and medium-chain acylcarnitines (h2=0.39); amino acids (h2=0.44); long-chain acylcarnitines (h2=0.39) and branched-chain amino acids (h2=0.27). We report a novel finding of high heritabilities of metabolites in premature CAD, establishing a possible genetic basis for these profiles. These results have implications for understanding CAD pathophysiology and genetics.
PMCID: PMC2683717  PMID: 19357637
acylcarnitines; amino acids; heritability; cardiovascular disease; metabolomics
3.  Neuropeptide Y Gene Polymorphisms Confer Risk of Early-Onset Atherosclerosis 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(1):e1000318.
Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a strong candidate gene for coronary artery disease (CAD). We have previously identified genetic linkage to familial CAD in the genomic region of NPY. We performed follow-up genetic, biostatistical, and functional analysis of NPY in early-onset CAD. In familial CAD (GENECARD, N = 420 families), we found increased microsatellite linkage to chromosome 7p14 (OSA LOD = 4.2, p = 0.004) in 97 earliest age-of-onset families. Tagged NPY SNPs demonstrated linkage to CAD of a 6-SNP block (LOD = 1.58–2.72), family-based association of this block with CAD (p = 0.02), and stronger linkage to CAD in the earliest age-of-onset families. Association of this 6-SNP block with CAD was validated in: (a) 556 non-familial early-onset CAD cases and 256 controls (OR 1.46–1.65, p = 0.01–0.05), showing stronger association in youngest cases (OR 1.84–2.20, p = 0.0004–0.09); and (b) GENECARD probands versus non-familial controls (OR 1.79–2.06, p = 0.003–0.02). A promoter SNP (rs16147) within this 6-SNP block was associated with higher plasma NPY levels (p = 0.04). To assess a causal role of NPY in atherosclerosis, we applied the NPY1-receptor–antagonist BIBP-3226 adventitially to endothelium-denuded carotid arteries of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice; treatment reduced atherosclerotic neointimal area by 50% (p = 0.03). Thus, NPY variants associate with atherosclerosis in two independent datasets (with strong age-of-onset effects) and show allele-specific expression with NPY levels, while NPY receptor antagonism reduces atherosclerosis in mice. We conclude that NPY contributes to atherosclerosis pathogenesis.
Author Summary
Early-onset coronary artery disease (CAD) has a very strong genetic component as evidenced by the heritable nature of this disease. However, little is known about the actual genes underlying disease risk. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is an abundant protein in humans that has been implicated in cardiovascular disease pathophysiology, but comprehensive evaluation of the gene coding for this protein has never been pursued in cardiovascular disease. Therefore, using gene-wide evaluation of variants within the NPY gene in a family-based as well as a non-familial study, we have shown that a cluster of six related NPY genetic variants is associated with early-onset CAD risk. We then show that one of these variants, which resides within the promoter region of this gene, is associated with higher NPY levels. Finally, to further support the functional role of this gene in CAD, we find that antagonism of the primary receptor of this gene results in marked attenuation of atherosclerosis in a mouse model. In conclusion, these findings demonstrate the role of the NPY gene in cardiovascular disease risk and add important additional information about the genetic architecture of this complex disease.
PMCID: PMC2602734  PMID: 19119412
4.  Recent Progress in Metabolic Signaling Pathways Regulating Aging and Life Span 
The NIH Summit, Advances in Geroscience: Impact on Health Span and Chronic Disease, discusses several aspects of cellular degeneration that underlie susceptibility to chronic aging-associated diseases, morbidity, and mortality. In particular, the session on Metabolism focuses on the interrelationship between signal transduction, intermediary metabolism, and metabolic products and byproducts that contribute to pathophysiologic phenotypes and detrimental effects that occur during the aging process, thus leading to susceptibility to disease. Although it is well established that many metabolic pathways (ie, oxidative phosphorylation, insulin-stimulated glucose uptake) decline with age, it often remains uncertain if these are a cause or consequence of the aging process. Moreover, the mechanisms accounting for the decline in metabolic function remain enigmatic. Several novel and unexpected concepts are emerging that will help to define the roles of altered metabolic control in the degenerative mechanisms of aging. This brief review summarizes several of the topics to be discussed in the metabolism of aging session (
PMCID: PMC4022126  PMID: 24833582
Signal transduction; Intermediary metabolism; Metabolic pathways.
5.  Coming of age: molecular drivers of aging and therapeutic opportunities 
Aging is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but no one seems to do anything about it. We believe this may soon change, as an improved understanding of the molecular and genetic pathways underlying aging suggests it is possible to therapeutically target the aging process and increase health span. This Review series focuses on fundamental cellular mechanisms of aging and their relationship to human disease. These pathways include telomere dysfunction in cellular senescence and induction of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) in systemic aging, sirtuin family regulation of metabolism and aging-associated diseases, mitochondrial metabolism in aging, the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway and the use of mTOR inhibitors to increase longevity, the progressive decline of the immune system with age, and aging-associated changes to pancreatic islet β cells that may contribute to diabetes. Together, these articles explore pathways affecting aging and possible interventional targets to slow or delay the onset of age-related pathologies.
PMCID: PMC3582156  PMID: 23454756
6.  Branched chain amino acids are novel biomarkers for discrimination of metabolic wellness 
To identify novel biomarkers through metabolomic profiles that distinguish metabolically well (MW) from metabolically unwell (MUW) individuals, independent of body mass index (BMI).
This study was conducted as part of the Measurement to Understand the Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis (MURDOCK) project. Individuals from 3 cohorts were classified as lean (BMI<25 kg/m2), overweight (BMI≥25 kg/m2, BMI<30 kg/m2) or obese (BMI≥30 kg/m2). Cardiometabolic abnormalities were defined as: (1) impaired fasting glucose (≥100mg/dL and ≤126mg/dL); (2) hypertension; (3) triglycerides ≥150 mg/dL; (4) HDL-C <40 mg/dL in men, <50 mg/dL in women); and (5) insulin resistance (calculated Homeostatic Model Assessment (HOMA-IR) index of >5.13). MW individuals were defined as having <2 cardiometabolic abnormalities and MUW individuals had ≥two cardiometabolic abnormalities. Targeted profiling of 55 metabolites used mass-spectroscopy-based methods. Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to reduce the large number of correlated metabolites into clusters of fewer uncorrelated factors.
Of 1,872 individuals, 410 were lean, 610 were overweight, and 852 were obese. Of lean individuals, 67% were categorized as MUW, whereas 80% of overweight and 87% of obese individuals were MUW. PCA-derived factors with levels that differed the most between MW and MUW groups were factors 4 (branched chain amino acids [BCAA]) [p<.0001], 8 (various metabolites) [p<.0001], and 9 (C4/Ci4, C3, C5 acylcarnitines) [p<.0001] and 10 (amino acids) [p<.0002]. Further, Factor 4, distinguishes MW from MUW individuals independent of BMI.
BCAA and related metabolites are promising biomarkers that may aid in understanding cardiometabolic health independent of BMI category.
PMCID: PMC3691289  PMID: 23375209
Obesity; Metabolomics; Insulin Resistance; Metabolic Risk
7.  Metabolomics Reveals Broad-Scale Metabolic Perturbations in Hyperglycemic Mothers During Pregnancy 
Diabetes Care  2013;37(1):158-166.
To characterize metabolites across the range of maternal glucose by comparing metabolomic profiles of mothers with high and low fasting plasma glucose (FPG).
We compared fasting serum from an oral glucose tolerance test at ∼28 weeks’ gestation from 67 Northern European ancestry mothers from the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) Study with high (>90th percentile) FPG with 50 mothers with low (<10th percentile) FPG but comparable BMI. Metabolic data from biochemical analyses of conventional clinical metabolites, targeted mass spectrometry (MS)-based measurement of amino acids, and nontargeted gas chromatography/MS were subjected to per-metabolite analyses and collective pathway analyses using Unipathway annotation.
High-FPG mothers had a metabolic profile consistent with insulin resistance including higher triglycerides, 3-hydroxybutyrate, and amino acids including alanine, proline, and branched-chain amino acids (false discovery rate [FDR]-adjusted P < 0.05). Lower 1,5-anhydroglucitol in high-FPG mothers suggested recent hyperglycemic excursions (FDR-adjusted P < 0.05). Pathway analyses indicated differences in amino acid degradation pathways for the two groups (FDR-adjusted P < 0.05), consistent with population-based findings in nonpregnant populations. Exploratory analyses with newborn outcomes indicated positive associations for maternal triglycerides with neonatal sum of skinfolds and cord C-peptide and a negative association between maternal glycine and cord C-peptide (P < 0.05).
Metabolomics reveals perturbations in metabolism of major macronutrients and amino acid degradation pathways in high- versus low-FPG mothers.
PMCID: PMC3867997  PMID: 23990511
8.  Interplay between lipids and branched-chain amino acids in development of insulin resistance 
Cell metabolism  2012;15(5):606-614.
Fatty acids (FA) and FA-derived metabolites have long been implicated in the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Surprisingly, application of metabolomics technologies has revealed that branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and related metabolites are more strongly associated with insulin resistance than many common lipid species. Moreover, the BCAA-related signature is predictive of incident diabetes and intervention outcomes, and uniquely responsive to therapeutic interventions. Nevertheless, in animal feeding studies, BCAA supplementation requires the background of a high-fat diet to promote insulin resistance. This article develops a model to explain how lipids and BCAA may synergize to promote metabolic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3695706  PMID: 22560213
9.  Metabolomic Analysis Reveals Extended Metabolic Consequences of Marginal Vitamin B-6 Deficiency in Healthy Human Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e63544.
Marginal deficiency of vitamin B-6 is common among segments of the population worldwide. Because pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP) serves as a coenzyme in the metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, organic acids, and neurotransmitters, as well as in aspects of one-carbon metabolism, vitamin B-6 deficiency could have many effects. Healthy men and women (age: 20-40 y; n = 23) were fed a 2-day controlled, nutritionally adequate diet followed by a 28-day low-vitamin B-6 diet (<0.5 mg/d) to induce marginal deficiency, as reflected by a decline of plasma PLP from 52.6±14.1 (mean ± SD) to 21.5±4.6 nmol/L (P<0.0001) and increased cystathionine from 131±65 to 199±56 nmol/L (P<0.001). Fasting plasma samples obtained before and after vitamin B6 restriction were analyzed by 1H-NMR with and without filtration and by targeted quantitative analysis by mass spectrometry (MS). Multilevel partial least squares-discriminant analysis and S-plots of NMR spectra showed that NMR is effective in classifying samples according to vitamin B-6 status and identified discriminating features. NMR spectral features of selected metabolites indicated that vitamin B-6 restriction significantly increased the ratios of glutamine/glutamate and 2-oxoglutarate/glutamate (P<0.001) and tended to increase concentrations of acetate, pyruvate, and trimethylamine-N-oxide (adjusted P<0.05). Tandem MS showed significantly greater plasma proline after vitamin B-6 restriction (adjusted P<0.05), but there were no effects on the profile of 14 other amino acids and 45 acylcarnitines. These findings demonstrate that marginal vitamin B-6 deficiency has widespread metabolic perturbations and illustrate the utility of metabolomics in evaluating complex effects of altered vitamin B-6 intake.
PMCID: PMC3679127  PMID: 23776431
10.  SIRT5 regulates the mitochondrial lysine succinylome and metabolic networks 
Cell metabolism  2013;18(6):920-933.
Reversible posttranslational modifications are emerging as critical regulators of mitochondrial proteins and metabolism. Here, we use a label-free quantitative proteomic approach to characterize the lysine succinylome in liver mitochondria and its regulation by the desuccinylase SIRT5. A total of 1190 unique sites were identified as succinylated, and 386 sites across 140 proteins representing several metabolic pathways including β-oxidation and ketogenesis were significantly hypersuccinylated in Sirt5−/− animals. Loss of SIRT5 leads to accumulation of medium- and long-chain acylcarnitines and decreased β-hydroxybutyrate production in vivo. In addition, we demonstrate that SIRT5 regulates succinylation of the rate-limiting ketogenic enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase 2 (HMGCS2) both in vivo and in vitro. Finally, mutation of hypersuccinylated residues K83 and K310 on HMGCS2 to glutamic acid strongly inhibits enzymatic activity. Taken together, these findings establish SIRT5 as a global regulator of lysine succinylation in mitochondria and present a mechanism for inhibition of ketogenesis through HMGCS2.
PMCID: PMC4105152  PMID: 24315375
11.  Race and Sex Differences in Small-Molecule Metabolites and Metabolic Hormones in Overweight and Obese Adults 
In overweight/obese individuals, cardiometabolic risk factors differ by race and sex categories. Small-molecule metabolites and metabolic hormone levels might also differ across these categories and contribute to risk factor heterogeneity. To explore this possibility, we performed a cross-sectional analysis of fasting plasma levels of 69 small-molecule metabolites and 13 metabolic hormones in 500 overweight/obese adults who participated in the Weight Loss Maintenance trial. Principal-components analysis (PCA) was used for reduction of metabolite data. Race and sex-stratified comparisons of metabolite factors and metabolic hormones were performed. African Americans represented 37.4% of the study participants, and females 63.0%. Of thirteen metabolite factors identified, three differed by race and sex: levels of factor 3 (branched-chain amino acids and related metabolites, p<0.0001), factor 6 (long-chain acylcarnitines, p<0.01), and factor 2 (medium-chain dicarboxylated acylcarnitines, p<0.0001) were higher in males vs. females; factor 6 levels were higher in Caucasians vs. African Americans (p<0.0001). Significant differences were also observed in hormones regulating body weight homeostasis. Among overweight/obese adults, there are significant race and sex differences in small-molecule metabolites and metabolic hormones; these differences may contribute to risk factor heterogeneity across race and sex subgroups and should be considered in future investigations with circulating metabolites and metabolic hormones.
PMCID: PMC3837434  PMID: 24117402
12.  MED13-dependent signaling from the heart confers leanness by enhancing metabolism in adipose tissue and liver 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2014;6(12):1610-1621.
The heart requires a continuous supply of energy but has little capacity for energy storage and thus relies on exogenous metabolic sources. We previously showed that cardiac MED13 modulates systemic energy homeostasis in mice. Here, we sought to define the extra-cardiac tissue(s) that respond to cardiac MED13 signaling. We show that cardiac overexpression of MED13 in transgenic (MED13cTg) mice confers a lean phenotype that is associated with increased lipid uptake, beta-oxidation and mitochondrial content in white adipose tissue (WAT) and liver. Cardiac expression of MED13 decreases metabolic gene expression in the heart but enhances them in WAT. Although exhibiting increased energy expenditure in the fed state, MED13cTg mice metabolically adapt to fasting. Furthermore, MED13cTg hearts oxidize fuel that is readily available, rendering them more efficient in the fed state. Parabiosis experiments in which circulations of wild-type and MED13cTg mice are joined, reveal that circulating factor(s) in MED13cTg mice promote enhanced metabolism and leanness. These findings demonstrate that MED13 acts within the heart to promote systemic energy expenditure in extra-cardiac energy depots and point to an unexplored metabolic communication system between the heart and other tissues.
See also: M Nakamura & J Sadoshima (December 2014)
PMCID: PMC4287978  PMID: 25422356
energy homeostasis; mediator complex; metabolic flexibility; metabolic gene expression; metabolism
13.  Cardiomyocyte glucagon receptor signaling modulates outcomes in mice with experimental myocardial infarction 
Molecular Metabolism  2014;4(2):132-143.
Glucagon is a hormone with metabolic actions that maintains normoglycemia during the fasting state. Strategies enabling either inhibition or activation of glucagon receptor (Gcgr) signaling are being explored for the treatment of diabetes or obesity. However, the cardiovascular consequences of manipulating glucagon action are poorly understood.
We assessed infarct size and the following outcomes following left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery ligation; cardiac gene and protein expression, acylcarnitine profiles, and cardiomyocyte survival in normoglycemic non-obese wildtype mice, and in newly generated mice with selective inactivation of the cardiomyocyte Gcgr. Complementary experiments analyzed Gcgr signaling and cell survival in cardiomyocyte cultures and cell lines, in the presence or absence of exogenous glucagon.
Exogenous glucagon administration directly impaired recovery of ventricular pressure in ischemic mouse hearts ex vivo, and increased mortality from myocardial infarction after LAD coronary artery ligation in mice in a p38 MAPK-dependent manner. In contrast, cardiomyocyte-specific reduction of glucagon action in adult GcgrCM−/− mice significantly improved survival, and reduced hypertrophy and infarct size following myocardial infarction. Metabolic profiling of hearts from GcgrCM−/− mice revealed a marked reduction in long chain acylcarnitines in both aerobic and ischemic hearts, and following high fat feeding, consistent with an essential role for Gcgr signaling in the control of cardiac fatty acid utilization.
Activation or reduction of cardiac Gcgr signaling in the ischemic heart produces substantial cardiac phenotypes, findings with implications for therapeutic strategies designed to augment or inhibit Gcgr signaling for the treatment of metabolic disorders.
PMCID: PMC4314543
Glucagon; Myocardial infarction; Glucagon receptor; Cardiomyocytes; Heart; Diabetes; Fatty acid metabolism
14.  Pdx-1 Activates Islet α- and β-Cell Proliferation via a Mechanism Regulated by Transient Receptor Potential Cation Channels 3 and 6 and Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinases 1 and 2 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(20):4017-4029.
The homeodomain transcription factor Pdx-1 has important roles in pancreatic development and β-cell function and survival. In the present study, we demonstrate that adenovirus-mediated overexpression of Pdx-1 in rat or human islets also stimulates cell replication. Moreover, cooverexpression of Pdx-1 with another homeodomain transcription factor, Nkx6.1, has an additive effect on proliferation compared to either factor alone, implying discrete activating mechanisms. Consistent with this, Nkx6.1 stimulates mainly β-cell proliferation, whereas Pdx-1 stimulates both α- and β-cell proliferation. Furthermore, cyclins D1/D2 are upregulated by Pdx-1 but not by Nkx6.1, and inhibition of cdk4 blocks Pdx-1-stimulated but not Nkx6.1-stimulated islet cell proliferation. Genes regulated by Pdx-1 but not Nkx6.1 were identified by microarray analysis. Two members of the transient receptor potential cation (TRPC) channel family, TRPC3 and TRPC6, are upregulated by Pdx-1 overexpression, and small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of TRPC3/6 or TRPC6 alone inhibits Pdx-1-induced but not Nkx6.1-induced islet cell proliferation. Pdx-1 also stimulates extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation, an effect partially blocked by knockdown of TRPC3/6, and blockade of ERK1/2 activation with a MEK1/2 inhibitor partially impairs Pdx-1-stimulated proliferation. These studies define a pathway by which overexpression of Pdx-1 activates islet cell proliferation that is distinct from and additive to a pathway activated by Nkx6.1.
PMCID: PMC3811680  PMID: 23938296
15.  Sirt3 Regulates Metabolic Flexibility of Skeletal Muscle Through Reversible Enzymatic Deacetylation 
Diabetes  2013;62(10):3404-3417.
Sirt3 is an NAD+-dependent deacetylase that regulates mitochondrial function by targeting metabolic enzymes and proteins. In fasting mice, Sirt3 expression is decreased in skeletal muscle resulting in increased mitochondrial protein acetylation. Deletion of Sirt3 led to impaired glucose oxidation in muscle, which was associated with decreased pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activity, accumulation of pyruvate and lactate metabolites, and an inability of insulin to suppress fatty acid oxidation. Antibody-based acetyl-peptide enrichment and mass spectrometry of mitochondrial lysates from WT and Sirt3 KO skeletal muscle revealed that a major target of Sirt3 deacetylation is the E1α subunit of PDH (PDH E1α). Sirt3 knockout in vivo and Sirt3 knockdown in myoblasts in vitro induced hyperacetylation of the PDH E1α subunit, altering its phosphorylation leading to suppressed PDH enzymatic activity. The inhibition of PDH activity resulting from reduced levels of Sirt3 induces a switch of skeletal muscle substrate utilization from carbohydrate oxidation toward lactate production and fatty acid utilization even in the fed state, contributing to a loss of metabolic flexibility. Thus, Sirt3 plays an important role in skeletal muscle mitochondrial substrate choice and metabolic flexibility in part by regulating PDH function through deacetylation.
PMCID: PMC3781465  PMID: 23835326
16.  Thyroid hormone stimulates hepatic lipid catabolism via activation of autophagy 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(7):2428-2438.
For more than a century, thyroid hormones (THs) have been known to exert powerful catabolic effects, leading to weight loss. Although much has been learned about the molecular mechanisms used by TH receptors (TRs) to regulate gene expression, little is known about the mechanisms by which THs increase oxidative metabolism. Here, we report that TH stimulation of fatty acid β-oxidation is coupled with induction of hepatic autophagy to deliver fatty acids to mitochondria in cell culture and in vivo. Furthermore, blockade of autophagy by autophagy-related 5 (ATG5) siRNA markedly decreased TH-mediated fatty acid β-oxidation in cell culture and in vivo. Consistent with this model, autophagy was altered in livers of mice expressing a mutant TR that causes resistance to the actions of TH as well as in mice with mutant nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR). These results demonstrate that THs can regulate lipid homeostasis via autophagy and help to explain how THs increase oxidative metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3386813  PMID: 22684107
17.  Effect of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass and Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding on Branched-Chain Amino Acid Metabolism 
Diabetes  2013;62(8):2757-2761.
It has been hypothesized that a greater decline in circulating branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) after weight loss induced by Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery than after calorie restriction alone has independent effects on glucose homeostasis, possibly by decreased signaling through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). We evaluated plasma BCAAs and their C3 and C5 acylcarnitine metabolites, muscle mTOR phosphorylation, and insulin sensitivity (insulin-stimulated glucose Rd) in obese subjects before and after ∼20% weight loss induced by RYGB (n = 10, BMI 45.6 ± 6.7 kg/m2) or laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) (n = 10, BMI 46.5 ± 8.8 kg/m2). Weight loss increased insulin-stimulated glucose Rd by ∼55%, decreased total plasma BCAA and C3 and C5 acylcarnitine concentrations by 20–35%, and did not alter mTOR phosphorylation; no differences were detected between surgical groups (all P values for interaction >0.05). Insulin-stimulated glucose Rd correlated negatively with plasma BCAAs and with C3 and C5 acylcarnitine concentrations (r values −0.56 to −0.75, P < 0.05). These data demonstrate that weight loss induced by either LAGB or RYGB causes the same decline in circulating BCAAs and their C3 and C5 acylcarnitine metabolites. Plasma BCAA concentration is negatively associated with skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity, but the mechanism(s) responsible for this relationship is not known.
PMCID: PMC3717831  PMID: 23610059
18.  Daily Variation of Serum Acylcarnitines and Amino Acids 
To characterize daily variation of amino acids (AAs) and acylcarnitines (ACs) in response to feeding and activity, we measured serum metabolites at various times and after various activities during the day. Subjects were admitted overnight for serial serum sampling, collected in the evening (6–8pm, n=40), before rising from bed or eating (8AM, n=40), 1 hour after rising but before eating (9 AM, n=20), 1–2 hours after rising and breakfast (9–10 AM, n=40), and at noon (12 PM, n=20). Measurements of 15 AAs and 45 ACs were performed by quantitative tandem mass spectrometry using stable-isotope dilution. Coefficients of variation within and between patients were calculated for individual metabolite values and factors derived from principal components analysis. The change of state between timepoints was evaluated by nearest neighbor non-parametric analysis of values at one timepoint compared to the next subsequent value. Relative to baseline AM recumbent concentrations, AA concentrations rose after activity and feeding while AC concentrations rose after activity and decreased with feeding. Furthermore, for all AAs, ACs, and their factors, biological variation was quantifiably evident and distinct from daily variation. This study confirms the daily variation of AAs and provides the first report of daily variation for a large panel of ACs. Although standardization of sample collection is highly desirable to control for daily variation (within a subject due to activity or feeding), this study demonstrated measurable biological variability (across subjects) suggesting that non-standardized sample collections could potentially provide insights into specific AA and AC metabolic pathways and disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4107907  PMID: 25067934
daily variation; acylcarnitines; amino acids; metabolomics; biomarkers
19.  Effects of HIV Infection on the Metabolic and Hormonal Status of Children with Severe Acute Malnutrition 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102233.
HIV infection occurs in 30% of children with severe acute malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. Effects of HIV on the pathophysiology and recovery from malnutrition are poorly understood.
We conducted a prospective cohort study of 75 severely malnourished Ugandan children. HIV status/CD4 counts were assessed at baseline; auxologic data and blood samples were obtained at admission and after 14 days of inpatient treatment. We utilized metabolomic profiling to characterize effects of HIV infection on metabolic status and subsequent responses to nutritional therapy.
At admission, patients (mean age 16.3 mo) had growth failure (mean W/H z-score −4.27 in non-edematous patients) that improved with formula feeding (mean increase 1.00). 24% (18/75) were HIV-infected. Nine children died within the first 14 days of hospitalization; mortality was higher for HIV-infected patients (33% v. 5%, OR = 8.83). HIV-infected and HIV-negative children presented with elevated NEFA, ketones, and even-numbered acylcarnitines and reductions in albumin and amino acids. Leptin, adiponectin, insulin, and IGF-1 levels were low while growth hormone, cortisol, and ghrelin levels were high. At baseline, HIV-infected patients had higher triglycerides, ketones, and even-chain acylcarnitines and lower leptin and adiponectin levels than HIV-negative patients. Leptin levels rose in all patients following nutritional intervention, but adiponectin levels remained depressed in HIV-infected children. Baseline hypoleptinemia and hypoadiponectinemia were associated with increased mortality.
Our findings suggest a critical interplay between HIV infection and adipose tissue storage and function in the adaptation to malnutrition. Hypoleptinemia and hypoadiponectinemia may contribute to high mortality rates among malnourished, HIV-infected children.
PMCID: PMC4106836  PMID: 25050734
20.  Circadian Clock NAD+ Cycle Drives Mitochondrial Oxidative Metabolism in Mice 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;342(6158):1243417.
Circadian clocks are self-sustained cellular oscillators that synchronize oxidative and reductive cycles in anticipation of the solar cycle. We found that the clock transcription feedback loop produces cycles of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) biosynthesis, adenosine triphosphate production, and mitochondrial respiration through modulation of mitochondrial protein acetylation to synchronize oxidative metabolic pathways with the 24-hour fasting and feeding cycle. Circadian control of the activity of the NAD+-dependent deacetylase sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) generated rhythms in the acetylation and activity of oxidative enzymes and respiration in isolated mitochondria, and NAD+ supplementation restored protein deacetylation and enhanced oxygen consumption in circadian mutant mice. Thus, circadian control of NAD+ bioavailability modulates mitochondrial oxidative function and organismal metabolism across the daily cycles of fasting and feeding.
PMCID: PMC3963134  PMID: 24051248
21.  Metabolomics Applied to Diabetes Research 
Diabetes  2009;58(11):2429-2443.
PMCID: PMC2768174  PMID: 19875619
22.  Cultured gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate adiposity and metabolic phenotypes in mice 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;341(6150):10.1126/science.1241214.
The role of specific gut microbes in shaping body composition remains unclear. We transplanted fecal microbiota from adult female twin pairs discordant for obesity into germ-free mice fed low-fat mouse chow, as well as diets representing different levels of saturated fat and fruit and vegetable consumption typical of the USA. Increased total body and fat mass, as well as obesity-associated metabolic phenotypes were transmissible with uncultured fecal communities, and with their corresponding fecal bacterial culture collections. Co-housing mice harboring an obese twin’s microbiota (Ob) with mice containing the lean co-twin’s microbiota (Ln) prevented the development of increased body mass and obesity-associated metabolic phenotypes in Ob cagemates. Rescue correlated with invasion of specific members of Bacteroidetes from the Ln microbiota into Ob microbiota, and was diet-dependent. These findings reveal transmissible, rapid and modifiable effects of diet-by-microbiota interactions.
PMCID: PMC3829625  PMID: 24009397
23.  Pathogenesis of A−β+ Ketosis-Prone Diabetes 
Diabetes  2013;62(3):912-922.
A−β+ ketosis-prone diabetes (KPD) is an emerging syndrome of obesity, unprovoked ketoacidosis, reversible β-cell dysfunction, and near-normoglycemic remission. We combined metabolomics with targeted kinetic measurements to investigate its pathophysiology. Fasting plasma fatty acids, acylcarnitines, and amino acids were quantified in 20 KPD patients compared with 19 nondiabetic control subjects. Unique signatures in KPD—higher glutamate but lower glutamine and citrulline concentrations, increased β-hydroxybutyryl-carnitine, decreased isovaleryl-carnitine (a leucine catabolite), and decreased tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates—generated hypotheses that were tested through stable isotope/mass spectrometry protocols in nine new-onset, stable KPD patients compared with seven nondiabetic control subjects. Free fatty acid flux and acetyl CoA flux and oxidation were similar, but KPD had slower acetyl CoA conversion to β-hydroxybutyrate; higher fasting β-hydroxybutyrate concentration; slower β-hydroxybutyrate oxidation; faster leucine oxidative decarboxylation; accelerated glutamine conversion to glutamate without increase in glutamate carbon oxidation; and slower citrulline flux, with diminished glutamine amide–nitrogen transfer to citrulline. The confluence of metabolomic and kinetic data indicate a distinctive pathogenic sequence: impaired ketone oxidation and fatty acid utilization for energy, leading to accelerated leucine catabolism and transamination of α-ketoglutarate to glutamate, with impaired TCA anaplerosis of glutamate carbon. They highlight a novel process of defective energy production and ketosis in A−β+ KPD.
PMCID: PMC3581228  PMID: 23160531
24.  Acidosis induces reprogramming of cellular metabolism to mitigate oxidative stress 
Cancer & Metabolism  2013;1:23.
A variety of oncogenic and environmental factors alter tumor metabolism to serve the distinct cellular biosynthetic and bioenergetic needs present during oncogenesis. Extracellular acidosis is a common microenvironmental stress in solid tumors, but little is known about its metabolic influence, particularly when present in the absence of hypoxia. In order to characterize the extent of tumor cell metabolic adaptations to acidosis, we employed stable isotope tracers to examine how acidosis impacts glucose, glutamine, and palmitate metabolism in breast cancer cells exposed to extracellular acidosis.
Acidosis increased both glutaminolysis and fatty acid β-oxidation, which contribute metabolic intermediates to drive the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle) and ATP generation. Acidosis also led to a decoupling of glutaminolysis and novel glutathione (GSH) synthesis by repressing GCLC/GCLM expression. We further found that acidosis redirects glucose away from lactate production and towards the oxidative branch of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). These changes all serve to increase nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) production and counter the increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) present under acidosis. The reduced novel GSH synthesis under acidosis may explain the increased demand for NADPH to recycle existing pools of GSH. Interestingly, acidosis also disconnected novel ribose synthesis from the oxidative PPP, seemingly to reroute PPP metabolites to the TCA cycle. Finally, we found that acidosis activates p53, which contributes to both the enhanced PPP and increased glutaminolysis, at least in part, through the induction of G6PD and GLS2 genes.
Acidosis alters the cellular metabolism of several major metabolites, which induces a significant degree of metabolic inflexibility. Cells exposed to acidosis largely rely upon mitochondrial metabolism for energy generation to the extent that metabolic intermediates are redirected away from several other critical metabolic processes, including ribose and glutathione synthesis. These alterations lead to both a decrease in cellular proliferation and increased sensitivity to ROS. Collectively, these data reveal a role for p53 in cellular metabolic reprogramming under acidosis, in order to permit increased bioenergetic capacity and ROS neutralization. Understanding the metabolic adaptations that cancer cells make under acidosis may present opportunities to generate anti-tumor therapeutic agents that are more tumor-specific.
PMCID: PMC4178214  PMID: 24359630
25.  Adipose-Specific Deletion of TFAM Increases Mitochondrial Oxidation and Protects Mice against Obesity and Insulin Resistance 
Cell metabolism  2012;16(6):765-776.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in adipose tissue, but the role for adipose tissues mitochondria in the development of these disorders is currently unknown. To understand the impact of adipose tissue mitochondria on whole body metabolism, we have generated a mouse model with disruption of the mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) specifically in fat. F-TFKO adipose tissue exhibit decreased mtDNA copy number, altered levels of proteins of the electron transport chain, and perturbed mitochondrial function with decreased Complex I activity and greater oxygen consumption and uncoupling. As a result, F-TFKO mice exhibit higher energy expenditure and are protected from age- and diet-induced obesity, insulin resistance and hepatosteatosis, despite a greater food intake. Thus, TFAM deletion in the adipose tissue increases mitochondrial oxidation that has positive metabolic effects suggesting that regulation of adipose tissue mitochondria may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity.
PMCID: PMC3529641  PMID: 23168219
Obesity; Brown adipose tissue; Mitochondrial function; mitochondrial bioenergetics; White adipose tissue; Insulin resistance; Diabetes

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