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1.  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
2.  Blocking the Entrance to Open the Gate 
Diabetes  2013;62(3):703-705.
PMCID: PMC3581194  PMID: 23431016
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  Pronounced Effects of Acute Endurance Exercise on Gene Expression in Resting and Exercising Human Skeletal Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e51066.
Regular physical activity positively influences whole body energy metabolism and substrate handling in exercising muscle. While it is recognized that the effects of exercise extend beyond exercising muscle, it is unclear to what extent exercise impacts non-exercising muscles. Here we investigated the effects of an acute endurance exercise bouts on gene expression in exercising and non-exercising human muscle. To that end, 12 male subjects aged 44–56 performed one hour of one-legged cycling at 50% Wmax. Muscle biopsies were taken from the exercising and non-exercising leg before and immediately after exercise and analyzed by microarray. One-legged cycling raised plasma lactate, free fatty acids, cortisol, noradrenalin, and adrenalin levels. Surprisingly, acute endurance exercise not only caused pronounced gene expression changes in exercising muscle but also in non-exercising muscle. In the exercising leg the three most highly induced genes were all part of the NR4A family. Remarkably, many genes induced in non-exercising muscle were PPAR targets or related to PPAR signalling, including PDK4, ANGPTL4 and SLC22A5. Pathway analysis confirmed this finding. In conclusion, our data indicate that acute endurance exercise elicits pronounced changes in gene expression in non-exercising muscle, which are likely mediated by changes in circulating factors such as free fatty acids. The study points to a major influence of exercise beyond the contracting muscle.
PMCID: PMC3511348  PMID: 23226462
13.  The journey of resveratrol from yeast to human 
Aging (Albany NY)  2012;4(3):146-158.
The natural polyphenolic compound resveratrol was first discovered in the 1940s. In the recent years, this compound received renewed interest as several findings implicated resveratrol as a potent SIRT1 activator capable of mimicking the effects of calorie restriction, and regulating longevity in lower organisms. Given the worldwide increase in age-related metabolic diseases the beneficial effects of resveratrol on metabolism and healthy aging in humans are currently a topic of intense investigation.
PMCID: PMC3348475  PMID: 22436213
Resveratrol; SIRT1; sirtuins; calorie restriction; aging; metabolic diseases
14.  The lipid droplet coat protein perilipin 5 also localizes to muscle mitochondria 
Histochemistry and Cell Biology  2011;137(2):205-216.
Perilipin 5 (PLIN5/OXPAT) is a lipid droplet (LD) coat protein mainly present in tissues with a high fat-oxidative capacity, suggesting a role for PLIN5 in facilitating fatty acid oxidation. Here, we investigated the role of PLIN5 in fat oxidation in skeletal muscle. In human skeletal muscle, we observed that PLIN5 (but not PLIN2) protein content correlated tightly with OXPHOS content and in rat muscle PLIN5 content correlated with mitochondrial respiration rates on a lipid-derived substrate. This prompted us to examine PLIN5 protein expression in skeletal muscle mitochondria by means of immunogold electron microscopy and Western blots in isolated mitochondria. These data show that PLIN5, in contrast to PLIN2, not only localizes to LD but also to mitochondria, possibly facilitating fatty acid oxidation. Unilateral overexpression of PLIN5 in rat anterior tibialis muscle augmented myocellular fat storage without increasing mitochondrial density as indicated by the lack of change in protein content of five components of the OXPHOS system. Mitochondria isolated from PLIN5 overexpressing muscles did not possess increased fatty acid respiration. Interestingly though, 14C-palmitate oxidation assays in muscle homogenates from PLIN5 overexpressing muscles revealed a 44.8% (P = 0.05) increase in complete fatty acid oxidation. Thus, in mitochondrial isolations devoid of LD, PLIN5 does not augment fat oxidation, while in homogenates containing PLIN5-coated LD, fat oxidation is higher upon PLIN5 overexpression. The presence of PLIN5 in mitochondria helps to understand why PLIN5, in contrast to PLIN2, is of specific importance in fat oxidative tissues. Our data suggests involvement of PLIN5 in directing fatty acids from the LD to mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation.
PMCID: PMC3262136  PMID: 22127648
PLIN5; OXPAT; Perilipin; Lipid droplet; Fatty acid oxidation; Mitochondria
15.  Cardiac lipid content is unresponsive to a physical activity training intervention in type 2 diabetic patients, despite improved ejection fraction 
Increased cardiac lipid content has been associated with diabetic cardiomyopathy. We recently showed that cardiac lipid content is reduced after 12 weeks of physical activity training in healthy overweight subjects. The beneficial effect of exercise training on cardiovascular risk is well established and the decrease in cardiac lipid content with exercise training in healthy overweight subjects was accompanied by improved ejection fraction. It is yet unclear whether diabetic patients respond similarly to physical activity training and whether a lowered lipid content in the heart is necessary for improvements in cardiac function. Here, we investigated whether exercise training is able to lower cardiac lipid content and improve cardiac function in type 2 diabetic patients.
Eleven overweight-to-obese male patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (age: 58.4 ± 0.9 years, BMI: 29.9 ± 0.01 kg/m2) followed a 12-week training program (combination endurance/strength training, three sessions/week). Before and after training, maximal whole body oxygen uptake (VO2max) and insulin sensitivity (by hyperinsulinemic, euglycemic clamp) was determined. Systolic function was determined under resting conditions by CINE-MRI and cardiac lipid content in the septum of the heart by Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.
VO2max increased (from 27.1 ± 1.5 to 30.1 ± 1.6 ml/min/kg, p = 0.001) and insulin sensitivity improved upon training (insulin stimulated glucose disposal (delta Rd of glucose) improved from 5.8 ± 1.9 to 10.3 ± 2.0 μmol/kg/min, p = 0.02. Left-ventricular ejection fraction improved after training (from 50.5 ± 2.0 to 55.6 ± 1.5%, p = 0.01) as well as cardiac index and cardiac output. Unexpectedly, cardiac lipid content in the septum remained unchanged (from 0.80 ± 0.22% to 0.95 ± 0.21%, p = 0.15).
Twelve weeks of progressive endurance/strength training was effective in improving VO2max, insulin sensitivity and cardiac function in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, cardiac lipid content remained unchanged. These data suggest that a decrease in cardiac lipid content in type 2 diabetic patients is not a prerequisite for improvements in cardiac function.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3127755  PMID: 21615922
magnetic resonance spectroscopy; magnetic resonance imaging; ectopic fat; type 2 diabetes mellitus; exercise; cardiomyopathy; lipotoxicity
16.  Restoration of Muscle Mitochondrial Function and Metabolic Flexibility in Type 2 Diabetes by Exercise Training Is Paralleled by Increased Myocellular Fat Storage and Improved Insulin Sensitivity 
Diabetes  2009;59(3):572-579.
Mitochondrial dysfunction and fat accumulation in skeletal muscle (increased intramyocellular lipid [IMCL]) have been linked to development of type 2 diabetes. We examined whether exercise training could restore mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Eighteen male type 2 diabetic and 20 healthy male control subjects of comparable body weight, BMI, age, and Vo2max participated in a 12-week combined progressive training program (three times per week and 45 min per session). In vivo mitochondrial function (assessed via magnetic resonance spectroscopy), insulin sensitivity (clamp), metabolic flexibility (indirect calorimetry), and IMCL content (histochemically) were measured before and after training.
Mitochondrial function was lower in type 2 diabetic compared with control subjects (P = 0.03), improved by training in control subjects (28% increase; P = 0.02), and restored to control values in type 2 diabetic subjects (48% increase; P < 0.01). Insulin sensitivity tended to improve in control subjects (delta Rd 8% increase; P = 0.08) and improved significantly in type 2 diabetic subjects (delta Rd 63% increase; P < 0.01). Suppression of insulin-stimulated endogenous glucose production improved in both groups (−64%; P < 0.01 in control subjects and −52% in diabetic subjects; P < 0.01). After training, metabolic flexibility in type 2 diabetic subjects was restored (delta respiratory exchange ratio 63% increase; P = 0.01) but was unchanged in control subjects (delta respiratory exchange ratio 7% increase; P = 0.22). Starting with comparable pretraining IMCL levels, training tended to increase IMCL content in type 2 diabetic subjects (27% increase; P = 0.10), especially in type 2 muscle fibers.
Exercise training restored in vivo mitochondrial function in type 2 diabetic subjects. Insulin-mediated glucose disposal and metabolic flexibility improved in type 2 diabetic subjects in the face of near–significantly increased IMCL content. This indicates that increased capacity to store IMCL and restoration of improved mitochondrial function contribute to improved muscle insulin sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC2828651  PMID: 20028948
17.  Brown Adipose Tissue in Morbidly Obese Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17247.
Cold-stimulated adaptive thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) to increase energy expenditure is suggested as a possible therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity. We have recently shown high prevalence of BAT in adult humans, which was inversely related to body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage (BF%), suggesting that obesity is associated with lower BAT activity. Here, we examined BAT activity in morbidly obese subjects and its role in cold-induced thermogenesis (CIT) after applying a personalized cooling protocol. We hypothesize that morbidly obese subjects show reduced BAT activity upon cold exposure.
Methods and Findings
After applying a personalized cooling protocol for maximal non-shivering conditions, BAT activity was determined using positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET-CT). Cold-induced BAT activity was detected in three out of 15 morbidly obese subjects. Combined with results from lean to morbidly obese subjects (n = 39) from previous study, the collective data show a highly significant correlation between BAT activity and body composition (P<0.001), respectively explaining 64% and 60% of the variance in BMI (r = 0.8; P<0.001) and BF% (r = 0.75; P<0.001). Obese individuals demonstrate a blunted CIT combined with low BAT activity. Only in BAT-positive subjects (n = 26) mean energy expenditure was increased significantly upon cold exposure (51.5±6.7 J/s versus 44.0±5.1 J/s, P = 0.001), and the increase was significantly higher compared to BAT-negative subjects (+15.5±8.9% versus +3.6±8.9%, P = 0.001), indicating a role for BAT in CIT in humans.
This study shows that in an extremely large range of body compositions, BAT activity is highly correlated with BMI and BF%. BAT-positive subjects showed higher CIT, indicating that BAT is also in humans involved in adaptive thermogenesis. Increasing BAT activity could be a therapeutic target in (morbid) obesity.
PMCID: PMC3044745  PMID: 21390318
18.  Paradoxical Increase in TAG and DAG Content Parallel the Insulin Sensitizing Effect of Unilateral DGAT1 Overexpression in Rat Skeletal Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e14503.
The involvement of muscle triacylglycerol (TAG) storage in the onset of insulin resistance is questioned and the attention has shifted towards inhibition of insulin signalling by the lipid intermediate diacylglycerol (DAG). The enzyme 1,2-acylCoA:diacylglyceroltransferase-1 (DGAT1) esterifies a fatty acyl-CoA on DAG to form TAG. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate if unilateral overexpression of DGAT1 in adult rat Tibialis anterior (TA) muscle will increase conversion of the lipid intermediate DAG into TAG, thereby improving muscle insulin sensitivity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The DGAT1 gene construct was injected in the left TA muscle of male rats on chow or high-fat (45% kcal) diet for three weeks, followed by application of one 800 V/cm and four 80 V/cm pulses, using the contralateral leg as sham-electroporated control. Seven days after electroporation, muscle specific insulin sensitivity was assessed with a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp using 2-deoxy-[3H]glucose. Here, we provide evidence that unilateral overexpression of DGAT1 in TA muscle of male rats is associated with an increased rather than decreased DAG content. Strikingly, this increase in DAG content was accompanied by improved muscle insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, markers of muscle lipolysis and mitochondrial function were also increased in DGAT1 overexpressing muscle.
We conclude that unilateral DGAT1 overexpression can rescue insulin sensitivity, possibly by increasing DAG and TAG turnover in skeletal muscle. In case of a proper balance between the supply and oxidation of fatty acids in skeletal muscle, the lipid intermediate DAG may not exert harmful effects on insulin signalling.
PMCID: PMC3021516  PMID: 21264296
19.  Lower Intrinsic ADP-Stimulated Mitochondrial Respiration Underlies In Vivo Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Muscle of Male Type 2 Diabetic Patients 
Diabetes  2008;57(11):2943-2949.
OBJECTIVE—A lower in vivo mitochondrial function has been reported in both type 2 diabetic patients and first-degree relatives of type 2 diabetic patients. The nature of this reduction is unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that a lower intrinsic mitochondrial respiratory capacity may underlie lower in vivo mitochondrial function observed in diabetic patients.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Ten overweight diabetic patients, 12 first-degree relatives, and 16 control subjects, all men, matched for age and BMI, participated in this study. Insulin sensitivity was measured with a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp. Ex vivo intrinsic mitochondrial respiratory capacity was determined in permeabilized skinned muscle fibers using high-resolution respirometry and normalized for mitochondrial content. In vivo mitochondrial function was determined by measuring phosphocreatine recovery half-time after exercise using 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
RESULTS—Insulin-stimulated glucose disposal was lower in diabetic patients compared with control subjects (11.2 ± 2.8 vs. 28.9 ± 3.7 μmol · kg−1 fat-free mass · min−1, respectively; P = 0.003), with intermediate values for first-degree relatives (22.1 ± 3.4 μmol · kg−1 fat-free mass · min−1). In vivo mitochondrial function was 25% lower in diabetic patients (P = 0.034) and 23% lower in first-degree relatives, but the latter did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.08). Interestingly, ADP-stimulated basal respiration was 35% lower in diabetic patients (P = 0.031), and fluoro-carbonyl cyanide phenylhydrazone–driven maximal mitochondrial respiratory capacity was 31% lower in diabetic patients (P = 0.05) compared with control subjects with intermediate values for first-degree relatives.
CONCLUSIONS—A reduced basal ADP-stimulated and maximal mitochondrial respiratory capacity underlies the reduction in in vivo mitochondrial function, independent of mitochondrial content. A reduced capacity at both the level of the electron transport chain and phosphorylation system underlies this impaired mitochondrial capacity.
PMCID: PMC2570390  PMID: 18678616
20.  Anti-inflammatory effect of rosiglitazone is not reflected in expression of NFκB-related genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus 
Rosiglitazone not only improves insulin-sensitivity, but also exerts anti-inflammatory effects. We have now examined in type 2 diabetic patients if these effects are reflected by changes in mRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) to see if these cells can be used to study these anti-inflammatory effects at the molecular level in vivo.
Eleven obese type 2 diabetic patients received rosiglitazone (2 × 4 mg/d) for 8 weeks. Fasting blood samples were obtained before and after treatment. Ten obese control subjects served as reference group. The expression of NFκB-related genes and PPARγ target genes in PBMCs, plasma TNFα, IL6, MCP1 and hsCRP concentrations were measured. In addition, blood samples were obtained after a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp.
Rosiglitazone reduced plasma MCP1 and hsCRP concentrations in diabetic patients (-9.5 ± 5.3 pg/mL, p = 0.043 and -1.1 ± 0.3 mg/L p = 0.003), respectively). For hsCRP, the concentration became comparable with the non-diabetic reference group. However, of the 84 NFκB-related genes that were measured in PBMCs from type 2 diabetic subjects, only RELA, SLC20A1, INFγ and IL1R1 changed significantly (p < 0.05). In addition, PPARγ and its target genes (CD36 and LPL) did not change. During the clamp, insulin reduced plasma MCP1 concentration in the diabetic and reference groups (-9.1 ± 1.8%, p = 0.001 and -11.1 ± 4.1%, p = 0.023, respectively) and increased IL6 concentration in the reference group only (23.5 ± 9.0%, p = 0.028).
In type 2 diabetic patients, the anti-inflammatory effect of rosiglitazone is not reflected by changes in NFκB and PPARγ target genes in PBMCs in vivo. Furthermore, our results do not support that high insulin concentrations contribute to the pro-inflammatory profile in type 2 diabetic patients.
PMCID: PMC2653037  PMID: 19243600
21.  Human Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Uncoupling Is Associated with Cold Induced Adaptive Thermogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1777.
Mild cold exposure and overfeeding are known to elevate energy expenditure in mammals, including humans. This process is called adaptive thermogenesis. In small animals, adaptive thermogenesis is mainly caused by mitochondrial uncoupling in brown adipose tissue and regulated via the sympathetic nervous system. In humans, skeletal muscle is a candidate tissue, known to account for a large part of the epinephrine-induced increase in energy expenditure. However, mitochondrial uncoupling in skeletal muscle has not extensively been studied in relation to adaptive thermogenesis in humans. Therefore we hypothesized that cold-induced adaptive thermogenesis in humans is accompanied by an increase in mitochondrial uncoupling in skeletal muscle.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The metabolic response to mild cold exposure in 11 lean, male subjects was measured in a respiration chamber at baseline and mild cold exposure. Skeletal muscle mitochondrial uncoupling (state 4) was measured in muscle biopsies taken at the end of the respiration chamber stays. Mild cold exposure caused a significant increase in 24h energy expenditure of 2.8% (0.32 MJ/day, range of −0.21 to 1.66 MJ/day, p<0.05). The individual increases in energy expenditure correlated to state 4 respiration (p<0.02, R2 = 0.50).
This study for the first time shows that in humans, skeletal muscle has the intrinsic capacity for cold induced adaptive thermogenesis via mitochondrial uncoupling under physiological conditions. This opens possibilities for mitochondrial uncoupling as an alternative therapeutic target in the treatment of obesity.
PMCID: PMC2258415  PMID: 18335051
22.  Increased uncoupling protein 3 content does not affect mitochondrial function in human skeletal muscle in vivo 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;111(4):479-486.
Phosphocreatine (PCr) resynthesis rate following intense anoxic contraction can be used as a sensitive index of in vivo mitochondrial function. We examined the effect of a diet-induced increase in uncoupling protein 3 (UCP3) expression on postexercise PCr resynthesis in skeletal muscle. Nine healthy male volunteers undertook 20 one-legged maximal voluntary contractions with limb blood flow occluded to deplete muscle PCr stores. Exercise was performed following 7 days consumption of low-fat (LF) or high-fat (HF) diets. Immediately following exercise, blood flow was reinstated, and muscle was sampled after 20, 60, and 120 seconds of recovery. Mitochondrial coupling was assessed by determining the rate of PCr resynthesis during recovery. The HF diet increased UCP3 protein content by approximately 44% compared with the LF diet. However, this HF diet–induced increase in UCP3 expression was not associated with any changes in the rate of muscle PCr resynthesis during conditions of maximal flux through oxidative phosphorylation. Muscle acetylcarnitine, free-creatine, and lactate concentrations during recovery were unaffected by the HF diet. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that increasing muscle UCP3 expression does not diminish the rate of PCr resynthesis, allowing us to conclude that the primary role of UCP3 in humans is not uncoupling.
PMCID: PMC152374  PMID: 12588886

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