Adipose tissue hypoxia and inflammation has been causally implicated in obesity-induced insulin resistance. Here we report that early in the course of high fat diet (HFD) feeding and obesity, adipocyte respiration becomes uncoupled, leading to increased oxygen consumption and a state of relative adipocyte hypoxia. These events are sufficient to trigger HIF-1α induction, setting off the chronic adipose tissue inflammatory response characteristic of obesity. At the molecular level, these events involve saturated fatty acid stimulation of the adenine nucleotide translocase 2 (ANT2), an inner mitochondrial membrane protein, which leads to the uncoupled respiratory state. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of either ANT2 or HIF-1α can prevent or reverse these pathophysiologic events, restoring a state of insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. These results reveal the sequential series of events in obesity-induced inflammation and insulin resistance.
Obesity; Insulin resistance; Adipose tissue hypoxia; Uncoupled Respiration; Hypoxia inducible factor; Adipose tissue inflammation
Macrophage-mediated inflammation is a major contributor to obesity-associated insulin resistance. The co-repressor NCoR interacts with inflammatory pathway genes in macrophages, suggesting that its removal would result in increased activity of inflammatory responses. Surprisingly, we find that macrophage-specific deletion of NCoR instead results in an anti-inflammatory phenotype along with robust systemic insulin sensitization in obese mice. We present evidence that de-repression of LXRs contributes to this paradoxical anti-inflammatory phenotype by causing increased expression of genes that direct biosynthesis of palmitoleic acid and ω3 fatty acids. Remarkably, the increased ω3 fatty acid levels primarily inhibit NF-κB-dependent inflammatory responses by uncoupling NF-κB binding and enhancer/promoter histone acetylation from subsequent steps required for pro-inflammatory gene activation. This provides a mechanism for the in vivo anti-inflammatory insulin sensitive phenotype observed in mice with macrophage-specific deletion of NCoR. Therapeutic methods to harness this mechanism could lead to a new approach to insulin sensitizing therapies.
nuclear co-repressor; insulin resistance; obesity; macrophage; inflammation
Gpihbp1-deficient mice (Gpihbp1−/−) lack the ability to transport lipoprotein lipase to the capillary lumen, resulting in mislocalization of LPL within tissues, defective lipolysis of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, and chylomicronemia. We asked whether GPIHBP1 deficiency and mislocalization of catalytically active LPL would alter the composition of triglycerides in adipose tissue or perturb the expression of lipid biosynthetic genes. We also asked whether perturbations in adipose tissue composition and gene expression, if they occur, would be accompanied by reciprocal metabolic changes in the liver.
Methods and Results
The chylomicronemia in Gpihbp1−/− mice was associated with reduced levels of essential fatty acids in adipose tissue triglycerides and increased expression of lipid biosynthetic genes. The liver exhibited the opposite changes—increased levels of essential fatty acids in triglycerides and reduced expression of lipid biosynthetic genes.
Defective lipolysis in Gpihbp1−/− mice causes reciprocal metabolic perturbations in adipose tissue and liver. In adipose tissue, the essential fatty acid content of triglycerides is reduced and lipid biosynthetic gene expression is increased, while the opposite changes occur in the liver.
lipoprotein lipase; hypertriglyceridemia; lipolysis; essential fatty acids; lipid biosynthetic genes
Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 (GPAT1), which is located on the outer mitochondrial membrane comprises up to 30% of total GPAT activity in the heart. It is one of at least four mammalian GPAT isoforms known to catalyze the initial, committed, and rate limiting step of glycerolipid synthesis. Because excess triacylglycerol (TAG) accumulates in cardiomyocytes in obesity and type 2 diabetes, we determined whether lack of GPAT1 would alter the synthesis of heart TAG and phospholipids after a 2-week high sucrose diet or a 3-month high fat diet. Even in the absence of hypertriglyceridemia, TAG increased 2-fold with both diets in hearts from wildtype mice. In contrast, hearts from Gpat1−/− mice contained 20–80% less TAG than the wildtype controls. In addition, hearts from Gpat1−/− mice fed the high-sucrose diet incorporate 60% less [14C]palmitate into heart TAG as compared to wildtype mice. Because GPAT1 prefers 16:0-CoA to other long chain acyl-CoA substrates, we determined the fatty acid composition of heart phospholipids. Compared to wildtype littermate controls, hearts from Gpat1−/− mice contained a lower amount of 16:0 in phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylserine/phosphatidylinositol and significantly more C20:4n6. Phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine from Gpat1−/− hearts also contained higher amounts of 18:0 and 18:1. Although at least three other GPAT isoforms are expressed in the heart, our data suggest that GPAT1 contributes significantly to cardiomyocyte TAG synthesis during lipogenic or high fat diets and influences the incorporation of 20:4n6 into heart phospholipids.
obesity; type 2 diabetes; lipotoxicity; diabetic cardiomyopathy; arachidonic acid
In analyzing the sequence tags for mutant mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines in BayGenomics (a mouse gene-trapping resource), we identified a novel gene, Agpat6, with sequence similarities to previously characterized glycerolipid acyltransferases. Agpat6’s closest family member is another novel gene that we have provisionally designated Agpat8. Both Agpat6 and Agpat8 are conserved from plants, nematodes, and flies to mammals. AGPAT6, which is predicted to contain multiple membrane-spanning helices, is found exclusively within the endoplasmic reticulum in mammalian cells. To gain insights into the in vivo importance of Agpat6, we used the Agpat6 ES cell line from BayGenomics to create Agpat6-deficient (Agpat6−/−) mice. Agpat6−/− mice lacked full-length Agpat6 transcripts, as judged by northern blots. One of the most striking phenotypes of Agpat6−/− mice was a defect in lactation. Pups nursed by Agpat6−/− mothers die perinatally. Normally, Agpat6 is expressed at high levels in the mammary epithelium of breast tissue, but not in the surrounding adipose tissue. Histological studies revealed that the aveoli and ducts of Agpat6−/− lactating mammary glands were underdeveloped, and there was a dramatic decrease in size and number of lipid droplets within mammary epithelial cells and ducts. Also, the milk from Agpat6−/− mice was markedly depleted in diacylglycerols and triacylglycerols. Thus, we identified a novel glycerolipid acyltransferase of the endoplasmic reticulum, AGPAT6, which is crucial for the production of milk fat by the mammary gland.
LPAAT; acyltransferase; transacylase; milk fat
Although statins are widely prescribed medications, there remains considerable variability in therapeutic response. Genetics can explain only part of this variability. Metabolomics is a global biochemical approach that provides powerful tools for mapping pathways implicated in disease and in response to treatment. Metabolomics captures net interactions between genome, microbiome and the environment. In this study, we used a targeted GC-MS metabolomics platform to measure a panel of metabolites within cholesterol synthesis, dietary sterol absorption, and bile acid formation to determine metabolite signatures that may predict variation in statin LDL-C lowering efficacy. Measurements were performed in two subsets of the total study population in the Cholesterol and Pharmacogenetics (CAP) study: Full Range of Response (FR), and Good and Poor Responders (GPR) were 100 individuals randomly selected from across the entire range of LDL-C responses in CAP. GPR were 48 individuals, 24 each from the top and bottom 10% of the LDL-C response distribution matched for body mass index, race, and gender. We identified three secondary, bacterial-derived bile acids that contribute to predicting the magnitude of statin-induced LDL-C lowering in good responders. Bile acids and statins share transporters in the liver and intestine; we observed that increased plasma concentration of simvastatin positively correlates with higher levels of several secondary bile acids. Genetic analysis of these subjects identified associations between levels of seven bile acids and a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs4149056, in the gene encoding the organic anion transporter SLCO1B1. These findings, along with recently published results that the gut microbiome plays an important role in cardiovascular disease, indicate that interactions between genome, gut microbiome and environmental influences should be considered in the study and management of cardiovascular disease. Metabolic profiles could provide valuable information about treatment outcomes and could contribute to a more personalized approach to therapy.
Omega-3 fatty acids (ω-3 FAs), DHA and EPA, exert anti-inflammatory effects, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we show that the G protein-coupled receptor 120 (GPR120) functions as an ω-3 FA receptor/sensor. Stimulation of GPR120 with ω-3 FAs or a chemical agonist causes broad anti-inflammatory effects in monocytic RAW 264.7 cells and in primary intraperitoneal macrophages. All of these effects are abrogated by GPR120 knockdown. Since chronic macrophage-mediated tissue inflammation is a key mechanism for insulin resistance in obesity, we fed obese WT and GPR120 knockout mice a high fat diet with or without ω-3 FA supplementation. The ω-3 FA treatment inhibited inflammation and enhanced systemic insulin sensitivity in WT mice, but was without effect in GPR120 knockout mice. In conclusion, GPR120 is a functional ω-3 FA receptor/sensor and mediates potent insulin sensitizing and anti-diabetic effects in vivo by repressing macrophage-induced tissue inflammation.
Long-chain acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) synthetase isoform 1 (ACSL1) catalyzes the synthesis of acyl-CoA from long-chain fatty acids and contributes the majority of cardiac long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase activity. To understand its functional role in the heart, we studied mice lacking ACSL1 globally (Acsl1T−/−) and mice lacking ACSL1 in heart ventricles (Acsl1H−/−) at different times. Compared to littermate controls, heart ventricular ACSL activity in Acsl1T−/− mice was reduced more than 90%, acyl-CoA content was 65% lower, and long-chain acyl-carnitine content was 80 to 90% lower. The rate of [14C]palmitate oxidation in both heart homogenate and mitochondria was 90% lower than in the controls, and the maximal rates of [14C]pyruvate and [14C]glucose oxidation were each 20% higher. The mitochondrial area was 54% greater than in the controls with twice as much mitochondrial DNA, and the mRNA abundance of Pgc1α and Errα increased by 100% and 41%, respectively. Compared to the controls, Acsl1T−/− and Acsl1H−/− hearts were hypertrophied, and the phosphorylation of S6 kinase, a target of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase, increased 5-fold. Our data suggest that ACSL1 is required to synthesize the acyl-CoAs that are oxidized by the heart, and that without ACSL1, diminished fatty acid (FA) oxidation and compensatory catabolism of glucose and amino acids lead to mTOR activation and cardiac hypertrophy without lipid accumulation or immediate cardiac dysfunction.
Acyl-CoA synthetase-1 (ACSL) contributes 80% of total ACSL activity in adipose tissue and was believed to be essential for the synthesis of triacylglycerol. We predicted that an adipose-specific knockout of ACSL1 (Acsl1A−/−) would be lipodystrophic, but, compared to controls, Acsl1A−/− mice had 30% greater fat mass when fed a low fat diet, and gained weight normally when fed a high fat diet. Acsl1A−/− adipocytes incorporated [14C]oleate into glycerolipids normally, but fatty acid oxidation rates were 50–90% lower than in control adipocytes and mitochondria. Acsl1A−/− mice were markedly cold intolerant, and β3-adrenergic agonists did not increase oxygen consumption, despite normal adrenergic signaling in brown adipose tissue. The reduced adipose FA oxidation and marked cold intolerance of Acsl1A−/− mice indicate that normal activation of FA for oxidation in adipose tissue in vivo requires ACSL1. Thus, ACSL1 has a specific function in directing the metabolic partitioning of fatty acids towards β-oxidation.
fatty acid oxidation; cold thermogenesis; brown adipose; triacylglycerol
The polyunsaturated nature of n-3 fatty acids makes them prone to oxidative damage. However, it is not clear if n-3 fatty acids are simply a passive site for oxidative attack or if they also modulate mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. The present study used fat-1 transgenic mice, that are capable of synthesizing n-3 fatty acids, to investigate the influence of increases in n-3 fatty acids and resultant decreases in the n-6∶n-3 ratio on liver mitochondrial H2O2 production and electron transport chain (ETC) activity. There was an increase in n-3 fatty acids and a decrease in the n-6∶n-3 ratio in liver mitochondria from the fat-1 compared to control mice. This change was largely due to alterations in the fatty acid composition of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine, with only a small percentage of fatty acids in cardiolipin being altered in the fat-1 animals. The lipid changes in the fat-1 mice were associated with a decrease (p<0.05) in the activity of ETC complex I and increases (p<0.05) in the activities of complexes III and IV. Mitochondrial H2O2 production with either succinate or succinate/glutamate/malate substrates was also decreased (p<0.05) in the fat-1 mice. This change in H2O2 production was due to a decrease in ROS production from ETC complex I in the fat-1 animals. These results indicate that the fatty acid changes in fat-1 liver mitochondria may at least partially oppose oxidative stress by limiting ROS production from ETC complex I.
Triglyceride synthesis in most mammalian tissues involves the sequential addition of fatty acids to a glycerol backbone, with unique enzymes required to catalyze each acylation step. Acylation at the sn-2 position requires 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase (AGPAT) activity. To date, seven Agpat genes have been identified based on activity and/or sequence similarity, but their physiological functions have not been well established. We have generated a mouse model deficient in AGPAT6, which is normally expressed at high levels in brown adipose tissue (BAT), white adipose tissue (WAT), and liver. Agpat6-deficient mice exhibit a 25% reduction in body weight and resistance to both diet-induced and genetically induced obesity. The reduced body weight is associated with increased energy expenditure, reduced triglyceride accumulation in BAT and WAT, reduced white adipocyte size, and lack of adipose tissue in the subdermal region. In addition, the fatty acid composition of triacylglycerol, diacylglycerol, and phospholipid is altered, with proportionally greater polyunsaturated fatty acids at the expense of monounsaturated fatty acids. Thus, Agpat6 plays a unique role in determining triglyceride content and composition in adipose tissue and liver that cannot be compensated by other members of the Agpat family.
acyltransferase; gene-trap; adipose tissue; energy expenditure; 1-acylglycerol-3-phosphate O-acyltransferase
Macrophages exhibit endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress when exposed to
lipotoxic signals associated with atherosclerosis, although the
pathophysiological significance and the underlying mechanisms remain unknown.
Here, we demonstrate that mitigation of ER stress with a chemical chaperone
results in marked protection against lipotoxic death in macrophages and prevents
macrophage fatty acid binding protein-4 (aP2) expression. Utilizing genetic and
chemical models, we show that aP2 is the predominant regulator of lipid-induced
macrophage ER stress. Lipid chaperone effects are mediated by the production of
phospholipids rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and bioactive lipids that
render macrophages resistant to lipid-induced ER stress. Furthermore,
aP2’s impact on macrophage lipid metabolism and ER stress response
is mediated by upregulation of key lipogenic enzymes by the liver X receptor.
Our results demonstrate the central role for lipid chaperones in regulating ER
homeostasis in macrophages in atherosclerosis and that ER responses can be
modified, genetically or chemically, to protect the organism against the
deleterious effects of hyperlipidemia.
The development of assessment techniques with immediate clinical applicability is a priority for resolving the growing epidemic in metabolic disease. Many imbalances in diet-dependent metabolism are not detectable in the fasted state. Resolving the high inter-individual variability in response to diet requires the development of techniques that can detect metabolic dysfunction at the level of the individual. The intra- and inter-individual variation in lipid metabolism in response to a standardized test meal was determined. Following an overnight fast on three different days, three healthy subjects consumed a test meal containing 40% of their daily calories. Plasma samples were collected at fasting, and 1, 3, 6, and 8 h after the test meal. Plasma fatty acid (FA) concentrations within separated lipid classes and lipoprotein fractions were measured at each time point. The intra-individual variation within each subject across three days was lower than the inter-individual differences among the three subjects for over 50% of metabolites in the triacylglycerol (TG), FA, and phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipid classes at 6 h, and for 25–50% of metabolites across lipid classes at 0, 1, 3, and 8 h. The consistency of response within individuals was visualized by principal component analysis (PCA) and confirmed by ANOVA. Three representative metabolites that discriminated among the three individuals in the apolipoprotein B (ApoB) fraction, TG16:1n7, TG18:2n6, and PC18:3n3, are discussed in detail. The postprandial responses of individuals were unique within metabolites that were individual discriminators (ID) of metabolic phenotype. This study shows that the targeted metabolomic measurement of individual metabolic phenotype in response to a specially formulated lipid challenge is possible even without lead-in periods, dietary and lifestyle control, or intervention over a 3-month period in healthy free-living individuals.
Health assessment; Metabolic phenotype; Nutritional phenotype; Lipid metabolism; Postprandial; Response to challenge
Statins are commonly used for reducing cardiovascular disease risk but therapeutic benefit and reductions in levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) vary among individuals. Other effects, including reductions in C-reactive protein (CRP), also contribute to treatment response. Metabolomics provides powerful tools to map pathways implicated in variation in response to statin treatment. This could lead to mechanistic hypotheses that provide insight into the underlying basis for individual variation in drug response. Using a targeted lipidomics platform, we defined lipid changes in blood samples from the upper and lower tails of the LDL-C response distribution in the Cholesterol and Pharmacogenetics study. Metabolic changes in responders are more comprehensive than those seen in non-responders. Baseline cholesterol ester and phospholipid metabolites correlated with LDL-C response to treatment. CRP response to therapy correlated with baseline plasmalogens, lipids involved in inflammation. There was no overlap of lipids whose changes correlated with LDL-C or CRP responses to simvastatin suggesting that distinct metabolic pathways govern statin effects on these two biomarkers. Metabolic signatures could provide insights about variability in response and mechanisms of action of statins.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11306-010-0207-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Cardiovascular disease; Lipidomics; Metabolomics; Pharmacogenomics; Pharmacometabolomics; Simvastatin
There is sparse information about specific storage and handling protocols that minimize analytical error and variability in samples evaluated by targeted metabolomics. Variance components that affect quantitative lipid analysis in a set of human serum samples were determined. The effects of freeze-thaw, extraction state, storage temperature, and freeze-thaw prior to density-based lipoprotein fractionation were quantified. The quantification of high abundance metabolites, representing the biologically relevant lipid species in humans, was highly repeatable (with coefficients of variation as low as 0.01 and 0.02) and largely unaffected by 1–3 freeze-thaw cycles (with 0–8% of metabolites affected in each lipid class). Extraction state had effects on total lipid class amounts, including decreased diacylglycerol and increased phosphatidylethanolamine in thawed compared with frozen samples. The effects of storage temperature over 1 week were minimal, with 0–4% of metabolites affected by storage at 4°C, −20°C, or −80°C in most lipid classes, and 19% of metabolites in diacylglycerol affected by storage at −20°C. Freezing prior to lipoprotein fractionation by density ultracentrifugation decreased HDL free cholesterol by 37% and VLDL free fatty acid by 36%, and increased LDL cholesterol ester by 35% compared with fresh samples. These findings suggest that density-based fractionation should preferably be undertaken in fresh serum samples because up to 37% variability in HDL and LDL cholesterol could result from a single freeze-thaw cycle. Conversely, quantitative lipid analysis within unfractionated serum is minimally affected even with repeated freeze-thaw cycles.
Metabolomics; Lipoprotein separation; Freeze-thaw; Targeted metabolomic lipid analysis; Effects of sample handling on analytical accuracy
The absence of mouse mitochondrial glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-1 (Gpat1-/-) increases the amount of arachidonate in liver phospholipids and increases β-hydroxybutyrate and acyl-carnitines, suggesting an elevated rate of liver fatty acid oxidation. We asked whether these alterations might increase reactive oxygen species (ROS), apoptosis, or hepatocyte proliferation. Compared to wildtype controls, liver mitochondria from Gpat1-/- mice showed a 20% increase in the rate of ROS production and a markedly increased sensitivity to the induction of the mitochondrial permeability transition. Mitochondrial phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine from Gpat1-/- liver contained 21% and 67% more arachidonate, respectively, than wildtype controls, and higher amounts of 4-hydroxynonenal, a product of arachidonate peroxidation. Oxidative stress was associated with an increase in apoptosis, and with 3-fold and 15-fold higher TUNEL positive cells in liver from young and old Gpat1-/- mice, respectively, compared to age-matched controls. Compared to controls, bromodeoxyuridine labeling was 50% and 7-fold higher in livers from young and old Gpat1-/- mice, respectively, but fewer glutathione-S-transferase positive cells were present. Thus, Gpat1-/- liver exhibits increased oxidative stress and sensitivity of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, and a balanced increase in apoptosis and proliferation.
Medical diagnosis and treatment efficacy will improve significantly when a more personalized system for health assessment is implemented. This system will require diagnostics that provide sufficiently detailed information about the metabolic status of individuals such that assay results will be able to guide food, drug and lifestyle choices to maintain or improve distinct aspects of health without compromising others. Achieving this goal will use the new science of metabolomics – comprehensive metabolic profiling of individuals linked to the biological understanding of human integrative metabolism. Candidate technologies to accomplish this goal are largely available, yet they have not been brought into practice for this purpose. Metabolomic technologies must be sufficiently rapid, accurate and affordable to be routinely accessible to both healthy and acutely ill individuals. The use of metabolomic data to predict the health trajectories of individuals will require bioinformatic tools and quantitative reference databases. These databases containing metabolite profiles from the population must be built, stored and indexed according to metabolic and health status. Building and annotating these databases with the knowledge to predict how a specific metabolic pattern from an individual can be adjusted with diet, drugs and lifestyle to improve health represents a logical application of the biochemistry knowledge that the life sciences have produced over the past 100 years.
metabolomics; metabolic profiling; human health
Nutritional biomarkers—biochemical, functional, or clinical indices of nutrient intake, status, or functional effects—are needed to support evidence-based clinical guidance and effective health programs and policies related to food, nutrition, and health. Such indices can reveal information about biological or physiological responses to dietary behavior or pathogenic processes, and can be used to monitor responses to therapeutic interventions and to provide information on interindividual differences in response to diet and nutrition. Many nutritional biomarkers are available; yet there has been no formal mechanism to establish consensus regarding the optimal biomarkers for particular nutrients and applications.
biomarkers; nutrition; nutrients