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1.  Familial adult onset hyperinsulinism due to an activating glucokinase mutation: Implications for pharmacological glucokinase activation 
Clinical endocrinology  2014;81(6):855-861.
Glucokinase (GCK) phosphorylates and thereby “traps” glucose in cells, thus serving as a gatekeeper for cellular glucose metabolism, particularly in hepatocytes and pancreatic beta cells. In humans, activating GCK mutations cause familial hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (GCK-HH), leading to keen interest in the potential of small molecule glucokinase activators (GKAs) as treatments for diabetes mellitus. Many such agents have been developed, however observation of side effects including hypertriglyceridaemia and hepatic steatosis have delayed their clinical development.
To describe the clinical presentation and metabolic profiles of affected family members in a kindred with familial hyperinsulinism of adult presentation due to a known activating mutation in GCK.
Clinical, biochemical and metabolic assessment, and GCK sequencing in affected family members.
In the 60 year-old female proband, hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia (blood glucose 2.1mmol/mol, insulin 18pmol/l) was confirmed following 34 hours of fasting, however abdominal computed tomography (CT), pancreatic MRI, endoscopic ultrasound, octreotide scintigraphy and selective arterial calcium stimulation failed to localise an insulinoma. A prolonged OGTT revealed fasting hypoglycaemia that was exacerbated after glucose challenge, consistent with dysregulated glucose-stimulated insulin release. A heterozygous activating mutation, p.Val389Leu, in the glucokinase gene (GCK) was found in the proband and four other family members. Of these, two had been investigated elsewhere for recurrent hypoglycaemia in adulthood, while the other two adult relatives were asymptomatic despite profound hypoglycaemia. All three of the available family members with the p.Val389Leu mutation had normal serum lipid profiles, normal rates of fasting hepatic de novo lipogenesis and had hepatic triglyceride levels commensurate with their degree of adiposity.
Activating GCK mutations may present in late adulthood with hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, and should be considered even in older patients being investigated for insulinoma. Normal circulating lipids, rates of hepatic de novo lipogenesis and appropriate hepatic triglyceride content for degree of adiposity in the patients we describe suggests that even lifelong GCK activation in isolation is insufficient to produce fatty liver and metabolic dyslipidaemia.
PMCID: PMC4735948  PMID: 24890200
2.  Simple and effective exercise design for assessing in vivo mitochondrial function in clinical applications using 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:19057.
The growing recognition of diseases associated with dysfunction of mitochondria poses an urgent need for simple measures of mitochondrial function. Assessment of the kinetics of replenishment of the phosphocreatine pool after exercise using 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy can provide an in vivo measure of mitochondrial function; however, the wider application of this technique appears limited by complex or expensive MR-compatible exercise equipment and protocols not easily tolerated by frail participants or those with reduced mental capacity. Here we describe a novel in-scanner exercise method which is patient-focused, inexpensive, remarkably simple and highly portable. The device exploits an MR-compatible high-density material (BaSO4) to form a weight which is attached directly to the ankle, and a one-minute dynamic knee extension protocol produced highly reproducible measurements of post-exercise PCr recovery kinetics in both healthy subjects and patients. As sophisticated exercise equipment is unnecessary for this measurement, our extremely simple design provides an effective and easy-to-implement apparatus that is readily translatable across sites. Its design, being tailored to the needs of the patient, makes it particularly well suited to clinical applications, and we argue the potential of this method for investigating in vivo mitochondrial function in new cohorts of growing clinical interest.
PMCID: PMC4707472  PMID: 26751849
3.  Abdominal fat depots associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome risk factors in black African young adults 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:1013.
Individuals of black African ethnicity tend to have less visceral adipose tissue (VAT) but more subcutaneous-abdominal adipose tissue (SCAT) than white Caucasians. However, it is unclear whether such distribution of abdominal fat is beneficial for metabolic disease risk in black individuals. Here we compared the associations between these specific abdominal fat depots, insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome risk.
A cross-sectional analysis of 76 black South African young adults (36 men; 40 women) aged 18–19 years participating in the Birth to Twenty Cohort Study had VAT and SCAT measured by MRI. The metabolic syndrome traits (blood pressure, lipid profile, fasting glucose and insulin) were measured and the values were combined into a metabolic syndrome risk score. Fasting glucose and insulin were used to derive the HOMA-index of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).
Compared to men, women had greater VAT (mean: 16.6 vs. 12.5 cm2) and SCAT (median 164.0 vs. 59.9 cm2). In men, SCAT (r = 0.50) was more strongly correlated to the metabolic syndrome score (MetS) than was VAT (r = 0.23), and was associated with both MetS (P = 0.001) and HOMA-IR (P = 0.001) after adjustment for VAT and total fat mass. In women, both abdominal fat compartments showed comparable positive correlations with MetS (r = 0.26 to 0.31), although these trends were weaker than in men.
In young black South African adults, SCAT appears to be more relevant than VAT to metabolic syndrome traits.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2147-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4595061  PMID: 26437649
4.  Low Circulating Levels of IGF-1 in Healthy Adults Are Associated With Reduced β-Cell Function, Increased Intramyocellular Lipid, and Enhanced Fat Utilization During Fasting 
Low serum IGF-1 levels have been linked to increased risk for development of type 2 diabetes. However, the physiological role of IGF-1 in glucose metabolism is not well characterized.
Our objective was to explore glucose and lipid metabolism associated with variations in serum IGF-1 levels.
Design, Setting and Participants
IGF-1 levels were measured in healthy, nonobese male volunteers aged 18 to 50 years from a biobank (n = 275) to select 24 subjects (age 34.8 ± 8.9 years), 12 each in the lowest (low-IGF) and highest (high-IGF) quartiles of age-specific IGF-1 SD scores. Evaluations were undertaken after a 24-hour fast and included glucose and glycerol turnover rates using tracers, iv glucose tolerance test to estimate peripheral insulin sensitivity (IS) and acute insulin and C-peptide responses (indices of insulin secretion), magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure intramyocellular lipids (IMCLs), calorimetry, and gene expression studies in a muscle biopsy.
Main Outcome Measures
Acute insulin and C-peptide responses, IS, and glucose and glycerol rate of appearance (Ra) were evaluated.
Fasting insulin and C-peptide levels and glucose Ra were reduced (all P < .05) in low-IGF compared with high-IGF subjects, indicating increased hepatic IS. Acute insulin and C-peptide responses were lower (both P < .05), but similar peripheral IS resulted in reduced insulin secretion adjusted for IS in low-IGF subjects (P = 0.044). Low-IGF subjects had higher overnight levels of free fatty acids (P = .028) and β-hydroxybutyrate (P = .014), increased accumulation of IMCLs in tibialis anterior muscle (P = .008), and a tendency for elevated fat oxidation rates (P = .058); however, glycerol Ra values were similar. Gene expression of the fatty acid metabolism pathway (P = .0014) was upregulated, whereas the GLUT1 gene was downregulated (P = .005) in the skeletal muscle in low-IGF subjects.
These data suggest that serum IGF-1 levels could be an important marker of β-cell function and glucose as well as lipid metabolic responses during fasting.
PMCID: PMC4413372  PMID: 24617714
5.  Liver fat accumulation is associated with reduced hepatic insulin extraction and beta cell dysfunction in healthy older individuals 
There is a well-established association between type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) secondary to excess accumulation of intrahepatic lipid (IHL), but the mechanistic basis for this association is unclear. Emerging evidence suggests that in addition to being associated with insulin resistance, NAFLD may be associated with relative beta-cell dysfunction. We sought to determine the influence of liver fat on hepatic insulin extraction and indices of beta-cell function in a cohort of apparently healthy older white adults.
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of 70 healthy participants in the Hertfordshire Physical Activity Trial (39 males, age 71.3 ± 2.4 years) who underwent oral glucose tolerance testing with glucose, insulin and C-Peptide levels measured every 30 minutes over two hours. The areas under the concentration curve for glucose, insulin and C-Peptide were used to quantify hepatic insulin extraction (HIE), the insulinogenic index (IGI), the C-Peptide increment (CGI), the Disposition Index (DI) and Adaptation Index (AI). Visceral fat was quantified with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and IHL with MR spectroscopy. Insulin sensitivity was measured with the Oral Glucose Insulin Sensitivity (OGIS) model.
29 of 70 participants (41%) exceeded our arbitrary threshold for NAFLD, i.e. IHL >5.5%. Compared to those with normal IHL, those with NAFLD had higher weight, BMI, waist and MR visceral fat, with lower insulin sensitivity and hepatic insulin extraction. Alcohol consumption, age, HbA1c and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were similar in both groups. Insulin and C-Peptide excursions after oral glucose loading were higher in the NAFLD group, but the CGI and AI were significantly lower, indicating a relative defect in beta-cell function that is only apparent when C-Peptide is measured and when dynamic changes in glucose levels and also insulin sensitivity are taken into account. There was no difference in IGI or DI between the groups.
Although increased IHL was associated with greater insulin secretion, modelled parameters suggested relative beta-cell dysfunction with NAFLD in apparently healthy older adults, which may be obscured by reduced hepatic insulin extraction. Further studies quantifying pancreatic fat content directly and its influence on beta cell function are warranted.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3974597  PMID: 24669786
Adaptation index; Beta cell dysfunction; C-peptide-genic index; Disposition index; Hepatic insulin extraction; Insulinogenic index; Intrahepatic lipid; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
6.  Defective Mitochondrial Function In Vivo in Skeletal Muscle in Adults with Down’s Syndrome: A 31P-MRS Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84031.
Down’s syndrome (DS) is a developmental disorder associated with intellectual disability (ID). We have previously shown that people with DS engage in very low levels of exercise compared to people with ID not due to DS. Many aspects of the DS phenotype, such as dementia, low activity levels and poor muscle tone, are shared with disorders of mitochondrial origin, and mitochondrial dysfunction has been demonstrated in cultured DS tissue. We undertook a phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P-MRS) study in the quadriceps muscle of 14 people with DS and 11 non-DS ID controls to investigate the post-exercise resynthesis kinetics of phosphocreatine (PCr), which relies on mitochondrial respiratory function and yields a measure of muscle mitochondrial function in vivo. We found that the PCr recovery rate constant was significantly decreased in adults with DS compared to non-DS ID controls (1.7±0.1 min−1 vs 2.1±0.1 min−1 respectively) who were matched for physical activity levels, indicating that muscle mitochondrial function in vivo is impaired in DS. This is the first study to investigate mitochondrial function in vivo in DS using 31P-MRS. Our study is consistent with previous in vitro studies, supporting a theory of a global mitochondrial defect in DS.
PMCID: PMC3877137  PMID: 24391872
7.  Intrahepatic Lipid Content and Insulin Resistance Are More Strongly Associated with Impaired NEFA Suppression after Oral Glucose Loading Than with Fasting NEFA Levels in Healthy Older Individuals 
Introduction. The mechanisms underlying the association between insulin resistance and intrahepatic lipid (IHL) accumulation are not completely understood. We sought to determine whether this association was explained by differences in fasting non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) levels and/or NEFA suppression after oral glucose loading. Materials and Methods. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of 70 healthy participants in the Hertfordshire Physical Activity Trial (39 males, age 71.3 ± 2.4 years) who underwent oral glucose tolerance testing with glucose, insulin, and NEFA levels measured over two hours. IHL was quantified with magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Insulin sensitivity was measured with the oral glucose insulin sensitivity (OGIS) model, the leptin: adiponectin ratio (LAR), and the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA). Results. Measures of insulin sensitivity were not associated with fasting NEFA levels, but OGIS was strongly associated with NEFA suppression at 30 minutes and strongly inversely associated with IHL. Moreover, LAR was strongly inversely associated with NEFA suppression and strongly associated with IHL. This latter association (beta = 1.11 [1.01, 1.21], P = 0.026) was explained by reduced NEFA suppression (P = 0.24 after adjustment). Conclusions. Impaired postprandial NEFA suppression, but not fasting NEFA, contributes to the strong and well-established association between whole body insulin resistance and liver fat accumulation.
PMCID: PMC3659510  PMID: 23737780
8.  Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation Is Impaired in Patients with Congenital Lipodystrophy 
Lipid accumulation in skeletal muscle and the liver is strongly implicated in the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but the mechanisms underpinning fat accrual in these sites remain incompletely understood. Accumulating evidence of muscle mitochondrial dysfunction in insulin-resistant states has fuelled the notion that primary defects in mitochondrial fat oxidation may be a contributory mechanism. The purpose of our study was to determine whether patients with congenital lipodystrophy, a disorder primarily affecting white adipose tissue, manifest impaired mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in skeletal muscle.
Research Design and Methods:
Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation was assessed in quadriceps muscle using 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy measurements of phosphocreatine recovery kinetics after a standardized exercise bout in nondiabetic patients with congenital lipodystrophy and in age-, gender-, body mass index-, and fitness-matched controls.
The phosphocreatine recovery rate constant (k) was significantly lower in patients with congenital lipodystrophy than in healthy controls (P < 0.001). This substantial (∼35%) defect in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation was not associated with significant changes in basal or sleeping metabolic rates.
Muscle mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is impaired in patients with congenital lipodystrophy, a paradigmatic example of primary adipose tissue dysfunction. This finding suggests that changes in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in skeletal muscle could, at least in some circumstances, be a secondary consequence of adipose tissue failure. These data corroborate accumulating evidence that mitochondrial dysfunction can be a consequence of insulin-resistant states rather than a primary defect. Nevertheless, impaired mitochondrial fat oxidation is likely to accelerate ectopic fat accumulation and worsen insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3380089  PMID: 22238385
9.  Mitochondrial dysfunction in patients with primary congenital insulin resistance 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(6):2457-2461.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. It has thus been suggested that primary and/or genetic abnormalities in mitochondrial function may lead to accumulation of toxic lipid species in muscle and elsewhere, impairing insulin action on glucose metabolism. Alternatively, however, defects in insulin signaling may be primary events that result in mitochondrial dysfunction, or there may be a bidirectional relationship between these phenomena. To investigate this, we examined mitochondrial function in patients with genetic defects in insulin receptor (INSR) signaling. We found that phosphocreatine recovery after exercise, a measure of skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in vivo, was significantly slowed in patients with INSR mutations compared with that in healthy age-, fitness-, and BMI-matched controls. These findings suggest that defective insulin signaling may promote mitochondrial dysfunction. Furthermore, consistent with previous studies of mouse models of mitochondrial dysfunction, basal and sleeping metabolic rates were both significantly increased in genetically insulin-resistant patients, perhaps because mitochondrial dysfunction necessitates increased nutrient oxidation in order to maintain cellular energy levels.
PMCID: PMC3104774  PMID: 21555852
10.  Randomized controlled trial of the efficacy of aerobic exercise in reducing metabolic risk in healthy older people: The Hertfordshire Physical Activity Trial 
While there are compelling observational data confirming that individuals who exercise are healthier, the efficacy of aerobic exercise interventions to reduce metabolic risk and improve insulin sensitivity in older people has not been fully elucidated. Furthermore, while low birth weight has been shown to predict adverse health outcomes later in life, its influence on the response to aerobic exercise is unknown. Our primary objective is to assess the efficacy of a fully supervised twelve week aerobic exercise intervention in reducing clustered metabolic risk in healthy older adults. A secondary objective is to determine the influence of low birth weight on the response to exercise in this group.
We aim to recruit 100 participants born between 1931–1939, from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study and randomly assign them to no intervention or to 36 fully supervised one hour sessions on a cycle ergometer, over twelve weeks. Each participant will undergo detailed anthropometric and metabolic assessment pre- and post-intervention, including muscle biopsy, magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, objective measurement of physical activity and sub-maximal fitness testing.
Given the extensive phenotypic characterization, this study will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise as well as the efficacy, feasibility and safety of such interventions in this age group.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN60986572
PMCID: PMC2708167  PMID: 19545359
11.  Postreceptor insulin resistance contributes to human dyslipidemia and hepatic steatosis 
Metabolic dyslipidemia is characterized by high circulating triglyceride (TG) and low HDL cholesterol levels and is frequently accompanied by hepatic steatosis. Increased hepatic lipogenesis contributes to both of these problems. Because insulin fails to suppress gluconeogenesis but continues to stimulate lipogenesis in both obese and lipodystrophic insulin-resistant mice, it has been proposed that a selective postreceptor defect in hepatic insulin action is central to the pathogenesis of fatty liver and hypertriglyceridemia in these mice. Here we show that humans with generalized insulin resistance caused by either mutations in the insulin receptor gene or inhibitory antibodies specific for the insulin receptor uniformly exhibited low serum TG and normal HDL cholesterol levels. This was due at least in part to surprisingly low rates of de novo lipogenesis and was associated with low liver fat content and the production of TG-depleted VLDL cholesterol particles. In contrast, humans with a selective postreceptor defect in AKT2 manifest increased lipogenesis, elevated liver fat content, TG-enriched VLDL, hypertriglyceridemia, and low HDL cholesterol levels. People with lipodystrophy, a disorder characterized by particularly severe insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, demonstrated similar abnormalities. Collectively these data from humans with molecularly characterized forms of insulin resistance suggest that partial postreceptor hepatic insulin resistance is a key element in the development of metabolic dyslipidemia and hepatic steatosis.
PMCID: PMC2631303  PMID: 19164855

Results 1-11 (11)