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1.  Low Physical Activity and Its Association with Diabetes and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Nationwide, Population-Based Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(8):e0160959.
Low physical activity (PA), or sedentary lifestyle, is associated with the development of several chronic diseases. We aimed to investigate current prevalence of sedentariness and its association with diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors. PA was evaluated in a population-based, cross-sectional, randomly sampled study conducted in 2009–2010 in Spain. International Physical Activity Questionnaire (SF-IPAQ) was used to assess PA. 4991 individuals (median age 50 years, 57% women) were studied. Prevalence of sedentariness was 32.3% for men and 39% for women (p < 0.0001). Sex differences were particularly notable (age*sex interaction, p = 0.0024) at early and older ages. Sedentary individuals had higher BMI (28 vs. 27 kg/m2) and obesity prevalence (37 vs. 26%). Low PA was present in 44, 43, and 38% of individuals with known diabetes (KDM), prediabetes/unknown-diabetes (PREDM/UKDM), and normal glucose regulation (p = 0.0014), respectively. No difference between KDM and PREDM/UKDM (p = 0.72) was found. Variables independently associated (p < 0.05) with sedentariness were age, sex, BMI, central obesity, Mediterranean diet adherence, smoking habit, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and dyslipidemia. Low PA is on the rise in Spain, especially among women. Sedentariness is associated with several cardiovascular risk factors and may be responsible for the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes in this country.
PMCID: PMC4988632  PMID: 27532610
2.  CDK4 is an essential insulin effector in adipocytes 
Insulin resistance is a fundamental pathogenic factor that characterizes various metabolic disorders, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. Adipose tissue contributes to the development of obesity-related insulin resistance through increased release of fatty acids, altered adipokine secretion, and/or macrophage infiltration and cytokine release. Here, we aimed to analyze the participation of the cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) in adipose tissue biology. We determined that white adipose tissue (WAT) from CDK4-deficient mice exhibits impaired lipogenesis and increased lipolysis. Conversely, lipolysis was decreased and lipogenesis was increased in mice expressing a mutant hyperactive form of CDK4 (CDK4R24C). A global kinome analysis of CDK4-deficient mice following insulin stimulation revealed that insulin signaling is impaired in these animals. We determined that insulin activates the CCND3-CDK4 complex, which in turn phosphorylates insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) at serine 388, thereby creating a positive feedback loop that maintains adipocyte insulin signaling. Furthermore, we found that CCND3 expression and IRS2 serine 388 phosphorylation are increased in human obese subjects. Together, our results demonstrate that CDK4 is a major regulator of insulin signaling in WAT.
PMCID: PMC4701556  PMID: 26657864
4.  HIV-1/HAART-Related Lipodystrophy Syndrome (HALS) Is Associated with Decreased Circulating sTWEAK Levels 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0144789.
Background and Objectives
Obesity and HIV-1/HAART–associated lipodystrophy syndrome (HALS) share clinical, pathological and mechanistic features. Tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) is a multifunctional cytokine that plays an important role in obesity and related diseases. We sought to explore the relationship between HALS and circulating levels of soluble (s) TWEAK and its scavenger receptor sCD163.
This was a cross-sectional multicenter study of 120 HIV-1-infected patients treated with a stable HAART regimen; 56 with overt HALS and 64 without HALS. Epidemiological and clinical variables were determined. Serum levels of sTWEAK and sCD163 levels were measured by ELISA. Results were analyzed with Student’s t-test, Mann-Whitney U and χ2 test. Pearson and Spearman correlation were used to estimate the strength of association between variables.
Circulating sTWEAK was significantly decreased in HALS patients compared with non-HALS patients (2.81±0.2 vs. 2.94±0.28 pg/mL, p = 0.018). No changes were observed in sCD163 levels in the studied cohorts. On multivariate analysis, a lower log sTWEAK concentration was independently associated with the presence of HALS (OR 0.027, 95% CI 0.001–0.521, p = 0.027).
HALS is associated with decreased sTWEAK levels.
PMCID: PMC4684375  PMID: 26658801
5.  Hypoxia is associated with a lower expression of genes involved in lipogenesis in visceral adipose tissue 
A key role for HIF-1α in the promotion and maintenance of dietary obesity has been proposed. We analyzed the association between hypoxia and de novo lipogenesis in human adipose tissue.
We studied HIF-1α mRNA and protein expression in fasting status in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) from non-obese and morbidly obese subjects, and in VAT from wild-type and ob/ob C57BL6J mice in both fasting and feeding status. We also analyzed the effect of hypoxia on the VAT mRNA expression of genes involved in lipogenesis.
HIF-1α was increased in VAT from morbidly obese subjects. In fasting status, C57BL6J ob/ob mice had a higher VAT HIF-1α mRNA expression than C57BL6J wild-type mice. In feeding status, VAT HIF-1α mRNA expression significantly increased in C57BL6J wild-type, but not in C57BL6J ob/ob mice. In humans, HIF-1α mRNA expression correlated positively with body mass index and insulin resistance. VAT HIF-1α mRNA expression correlated negatively with ACC1, PDHB and SIRT3 mRNA expression, and positively with PPAR-γ. VAT explants incubated in hypoxia showed reduced SIRT3 and increased PPAR-γ, SREBP-1c, ACLY, ACC1 and FASN mRNA expression.
Morbidly obese subjects have a higher level of VAT HIF-1α. Postprandial status is associated with an increase in HIF-1α mRNA expression in C57BL6J wild-type mice. Hypoxia alters the mRNA expression of genes involved in de novo lipogenesis in human VAT.
PMCID: PMC4663723  PMID: 26619907
HIF-1α; Hypoxia; Adipose tissue; Insulin resistance; Morbid obesity
6.  Adipose tissue glycogen accumulation is associated with obesity-linked inflammation in humans 
Molecular Metabolism  2015;5(1):5-18.
Glycogen metabolism has emerged as a mediator in the control of energy homeostasis and studies in murine models reveal that adipose tissue might contain glycogen stores. Here we investigated the physio(patho)logical role of glycogen in human adipose tissue in the context of obesity and insulin resistance.
We studied glucose metabolic flux of hypoxic human adipoctyes by nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry-based metabolic approaches. Glycogen synthesis and glycogen content in response to hypoxia was analyzed in human adipocytes and macrophages. To explore the metabolic effects of enforced glycogen deposition in adipocytes and macrophages, we overexpressed PTG, the only glycogen-associated regulatory subunit (PP1-GTS) reported in murine adipocytes. Adipose tissue gene expression analysis was performed on wild type and homozygous PTG KO male mice. Finally, glycogen metabolism gene expression and glycogen accumulation was analyzed in adipose tissue, mature adipocytes and resident macrophages from lean and obese subjects with different degrees of insulin resistance in 2 independent cohorts.
We show that hypoxia modulates glucose metabolic flux in human adipocytes and macrophages and promotes glycogenesis. Enforced glycogen deposition by overexpression of PTG re-orients adipocyte secretion to a pro-inflammatory response linked to insulin resistance and monocyte/lymphocyte migration. Furthermore, glycogen accumulation is associated with inhibition of mTORC1 signaling and increased basal autophagy flux, correlating with greater leptin release in glycogen-loaded adipocytes. PTG-KO mice have reduced expression of key inflammatory genes in adipose tissue and PTG overexpression in M0 macrophages induces a pro-inflammatory and glycolytic M1 phenotype. Increased glycogen synthase expression correlates with glycogen deposition in subcutaneous adipose tissue of obese patients. Glycogen content in subcutaneous mature adipocytes is associated with BMI and leptin expression.
Our data establish glycogen mishandling in adipose tissue as a potential key feature of inflammatory-related metabolic stress in human obesity.
•Hypoxia redirects extracellular glucose to glycogen synthesis in human adipocytes.•Glycogen modifies the endocrine function of adipocytes and induces insulin resistance.•Glycogen stimulates leptin secretion through an autophagy-dependent mechanism.•Enforced glycogen accumulation in macrophages promotes M1 polarization.•Obesity is associated with higher GS expression and glycogen stores in adipose tissue.
PMCID: PMC4703799  PMID: 26844203
Glycogen; Adipocyte; Macrophage; Autophagy; Obesity; Insulin resistance
7.  FGF-23/Vitamin D Axis in Type 1 Diabetes: The Potential Role of Mineral Metabolism in Arterial Stiffness 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0140222.
To investigate the usefulness of Fibroblast Growth Factor 23 (FGF-23) and vitamin D as possible biomarkers of pre-clinical atherosclerosis, assessed as arterial stiffness (AS), in a group of subjects with type 1 diabetes (T1DM) and no previous cardiovascular events.
Research Design and Methods
68 T1DM patients and 68 age- and sex-matched controls were evaluated for 1) age, sex, diabetes duration, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, BMI, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, HbA1c, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and lipid profile; 2) microvascular complications; 3) blood concentrations of FGF-23 and mineral metabolism parameters (calcium, phosphate, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)D)); 4) AS, assessed as aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV); and 5) low-grade inflammation (hsCRP, IL-6, sTNFαR1, sTNFαR2) and endothelial dysfunction (ED) markers (ICAM-1, VCAM-1, E-Selectin).
Patients with T1DM had higher aPWV compared with controls (p<0.001), but they did not present differences in 25(OH)D (70.3(50.4–86.2)nmol/L vs. 70.7(59.7–83.0)nmol/L; p = 0.462) and in FGF-23 plasma concentrations (70.1(38.4–151.9)RU/mL vs. 77.6(51.8–113.9)RU/mL; p = 0.329). In T1DM patients, higher concentrations of FGF-23 were positively associated with aPWV after adjusting for eGFR and classical cardiovascular risk factors (model 1: ß = 0.202, p = 0.026), other mineral metabolism parameters (model 2: ß = 0.214, p = 0.015), microvascular complications, low-grade inflammation and ED markers (model 3: ß = 0.170, p = 0.045). Lower 25(OH)D concentrations were also associated with higher aPWV after adjusting for all the above-mentioned factors (model 3: ß = -0.241, p = 0.015).
We conclude that both FGF-23 plasma concentrations (positively) and 25(OH)D serum concentrations (negatively) are associated with AS in patients with T1DM and no previous cardiovascular events.
PMCID: PMC4604080  PMID: 26462160
8.  Obesity changes the human gut mycobiome 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:14600.
The human intestine is home to a diverse range of bacterial and fungal species, forming an ecological community that contributes to normal physiology and disease susceptibility. Here, the fungal microbiota (mycobiome) in obese and non-obese subjects was characterized using Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS)-based sequencing. The results demonstrate that obese patients could be discriminated by their specific fungal composition, which also distinguished metabolically “healthy” from “unhealthy” obesity. Clusters according to genus abundance co-segregated with body fatness, fasting triglycerides and HDL-cholesterol. A preliminary link to metabolites such as hexadecanedioic acid, caproic acid and N-acetyl-L-glutamic acid was also found. Mucor racemosus and M. fuscus were the species more represented in non-obese subjects compared to obese counterparts. Interestingly, the decreased relative abundance of the Mucor genus in obese subjects was reversible upon weight loss. Collectively, these findings suggest that manipulation of gut mycobiome communities might be a novel target in the treatment of obesity.
PMCID: PMC4600977  PMID: 26455903
9.  PPP2R5C Couples Hepatic Glucose and Lipid Homeostasis 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(10):e1005561.
In mammals, the liver plays a central role in maintaining carbohydrate and lipid homeostasis by acting both as a major source and a major sink of glucose and lipids. In particular, when dietary carbohydrates are in excess, the liver converts them to lipids via de novo lipogenesis. The molecular checkpoints regulating the balance between carbohydrate and lipid homeostasis, however, are not fully understood. Here we identify PPP2R5C, a regulatory subunit of PP2A, as a novel modulator of liver metabolism in postprandial physiology. Inactivation of PPP2R5C in isolated hepatocytes leads to increased glucose uptake and increased de novo lipogenesis. These phenotypes are reiterated in vivo, where hepatocyte specific PPP2R5C knockdown yields mice with improved systemic glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, but elevated circulating triglyceride levels. We show that modulation of PPP2R5C levels leads to alterations in AMPK and SREBP-1 activity. We find that hepatic levels of PPP2R5C are elevated in human diabetic patients, and correlate with obesity and insulin resistance in these subjects. In sum, our data suggest that hepatic PPP2R5C represents an important factor in the functional wiring of energy metabolism and the maintenance of a metabolically healthy state.
Author Summary
After a meal, dietary glucose travels through the hepatic portal vein to the liver. A substantial part of this glucose is taken up by liver, which converts it to glycogen which is stored, and lipids which are in part stored and in part secreted as VLDL particles. The rest of the organs receive whatever glucose the liver leaves in circulation, plus the secreted lipids. Hence the liver plays a crucial role in determining the balance of sugar versus lipids in the body after a meal. This balance is very important, because too much glucose in circulation leads to diabetic complications whereas too much VLDL increases risk of atherosclerosis. Little is known about how the liver strikes this balance. We identify here a phosphatase—the PP2A holoenzyme containing the PPP2R5C regulatory subunit—as a regulator of this process. We find that knockdown of PPP2R5C in mouse liver specifically causes it to uptake elevated levels of glucose, and secrete elevated levels of VLDL into circulation. This leads to a phenotype of improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. The prediction from these functional studies in mice is that elevated levels of PPP2R5C expression should lead to insulin resistance. Indeed, we find that PPP2R5C expression levels are elevated in diabetic patients, or healthy controls with visceral obesity, raising the possibility that dysregulation of PPP2R5C expression in humans may contribute towards metabolic dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4595073  PMID: 26440364
10.  Zinc-α2-Glycoprotein Modulates AKT-Dependent Insulin Signaling in Human Adipocytes by Activation of the PP2A Phosphatase 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129644.
Evidence from mouse models suggests that zinc-α2-glycoprotein (ZAG) is a novel anti-obesity adipokine. In humans, however, data are controversial and its physiological role in adipose tissue (AT) remains unknown. Here we explored the molecular mechanisms by which ZAG regulates carbohydrate metabolism in human adipocytes.
ZAG action on glucose uptake and insulin action was analyzed. β1 and β2-adrenoreceptor (AR) antagonists and siRNA targeting PP2A phosphatase were used to examine the mechanisms by which ZAG modulates insulin sensitivity. Plasma levels of ZAG were measured in a lean patient cohort stratified for HOMA-IR.
ZAG treatment increased basal glucose uptake, correlating with an increase in GLUT expression, but induced insulin resistance in adipocytes. Pretreatment of adipocytes with propranolol and a specific β1-AR antagonist demonstrated that ZAG effects on basal glucose uptake and GLUT4 expression are mediated via β1-AR, whereas inhibition of insulin action is dependent on β2-AR activation. ZAG treatment correlated with an increase in PP2A activity. Silencing of the PP2A catalytic subunit abrogated the negative effect of ZAG on insulin-stimulated AKT phosphorylation and glucose uptake but not on GLUT4 expression and basal glucose uptake. ZAG circulating levels were unchanged in a lean patient cohort stratified for HOMA-IR. Neither glucose nor insulin was associated with plasma ZAG.
ZAG inhibits insulin-induced glucose uptake in human adipocytes by impairing insulin signaling at the level of AKT in a β2-AR- and PP2A-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC4465909  PMID: 26068931
11.  Serum sCD163 Levels Are Associated with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Are Influenced by Coffee and Wine Consumption: Results of the Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e101250.
Serum levels of soluble TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (sTWEAK) and its scavenger receptor CD163 (sCD163) have been linked to insulin resistance. We analysed the usefulness of these cytokines as biomarkers of type 2 diabetes in a Spanish cohort, together with their relationship to food consumption in the setting of the study.
Research Design and Methods
This is a cross-sectional, matched case-control study of 514 type 2 diabetes subjects and 517 controls with a Normal Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (NOGTT), using data from the study. Study variables included clinical and demographic structured survey, food frequency questionnaire and physical examination. Serum concentrations of sTWEAK and sCD163 were measured by ELISA. Linear regression analysis determined which variables were related to sTWEAK and sCD163 levels. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate odd ratios of presenting type 2 diabetes.
sCD163 concentrations and sCD163/sTWEAK ratio were 11.0% and 15.0% higher, respectively, (P<0.001) in type 2 diabetes than in controls. Following adjustment for various confounders, the OR for presenting type 2 diabetes in subjects in the highest vs the lowest tertile of sCD163 was [(OR), 2,01 (95%CI, 1,46–2,97); P for trend <0.001]. Coffee and red wine consumption was negatively associated with serum levels of sCD163 (P = 0.0001 and; P = 0.002 for coffee and red wine intake, respectively).
High circulating levels of sCD163 are associated with type 2 diabetes in the Spanish population. The association between coffee and red wine intake and these biomarkers deserves further study to confirm its potential role in type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4076325  PMID: 24978196
12.  Serum Activin A and Follistatin Levels in Gestational Diabetes and the Association of the Activin A-Follistatin System with Anthropometric Parameters in Offspring 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e92175.
The Activin A-Follistatin system has emerged as an important regulator of lipid and glucose metabolism with possible repercussions on fetal growth.
To analyze circulating activin A, follistatin and follistatin-like-3 (FSTL3) levels and their relationship with glucose metabolism in pregnant women and their influence on fetal growth and neonatal adiposity.
Design and methods
A prospective cohort was studied comprising 207 pregnant women, 129 with normal glucose tolerance (NGT) and 78 with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and their offspring. Activin A, follistatin and FSTL3 levels were measured in maternal serum collected in the early third trimester of pregnancy. Serial fetal ultrasounds were performed during the third trimester to evaluate fetal growth. Neonatal anthropometry was measured to assess neonatal adiposity.
Serum follistatin levels were significantly lower in GDM than in NGT pregnant women (8.21±2.32 ng/mL vs 9.22±3.41, P = 0.012) whereas serum FSTL3 and activin A levels were comparable between the two groups. Serum follistatin concentrations were negatively correlated with HOMA-IR and positively with ultrasound growth parameters such as fractional thigh volume estimation in the middle of the third trimester and percent fat mass at birth. Also, in the stepwise multiple linear regression analysis serum follistatin levels were negatively associated with HOMA-IR (β = −0.199, P = 0.008) and the diagnosis of gestational diabetes (β = −0.138, P = 0.049). Likewise, fractional thigh volume estimation in the middle of third trimester and percent fat mass at birth were positively determined by serum follistatin levels (β = 0.214, P = 0.005 and β = 0.231, P = 0.002, respectively).
Circulating follistatin levels are reduced in GDM compared with NGT pregnant women and they are positively associated with fetal growth and neonatal adiposity. These data suggest a role of the Activin-Follistatin system in maternal and fetal metabolism during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3998926  PMID: 24763182
13.  Reduced circulating sTWEAK levels are associated with metabolic syndrome in elderly individuals at high cardiovascular risk 
The circulating soluble TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (sTWEAK) is a cytokine that modulates inflammatory and atherogenic reactions related to cardiometabolic risk. We investigated the association between sTWEAK levels and metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its components in older subjects at high cardiovascular risk.
Cross-sectional analysis of 452 non-diabetic individuals (men and women aged 55–80 years) at high cardiovascular risk. MetS was defined by AHA/NHLBI and IDF criteria. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for MetS and its components by tertiles of serum sTWEAK concentrations measured by ELISA.
sTWEAK concentrations were lower in subjects with MetS than in those without. In gender- and age-adjusted analyses, subjects in the lowest sTWEAK tertile had higher ORs for overall MetS [1.71 (95% CI, 1.07-2.72)] and its components abdominal obesity [2.01 (1.15-3.52)], hyperglycemia [1.94 (1.20-3.11)], and hypertriglyceridemia [1.73 (1.05-2.82)] than those in the upper tertile. These associations persisted after controlling for family history of diabetes and premature coronary heart disease, lifestyle, kidney function and other MetS components. sTWEAK concentrations decreased as the number of MetS components increased. Individuals in the lowest vs the upper sTWEAK tertile had an increased risk of disclosing greater number of MetS features. Adjusted ORs for individuals with 2 vs ≤1, 3 vs ≤1, and ≥4 vs ≤ 1 MetS components were 2.60 (1.09-6.22), 2.83 (1.16-6.87) and 6.39 (2.42-16.85), respectively.
In older subjects at high cardiovascular risk, reduced sTWEAK levels are associated with MetS: abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia and hyperglycemia are the main contributors to this association.
PMCID: PMC3974038  PMID: 24565471
sTWEAK; Metabolic syndrome; Cardiovascular risk; Biomarkers; Insulin resistance
14.  Joint Analysis of Individual Participants’ Data from 17 Studies on the Association of the IL6 Variant -174G>C with Circulating Glucose Levels, Interleukin-6 Levels, and Body-Mass Index 
Annals of medicine  2009;41(2):128-138.
Several studies have investigated associations between the -174G>C polymorphism (rs1800795) of the IL6-gene, but presented inconsistent results.
This joint analysis aimed to clarify whether IL6 -174G>C was associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) related quantitative phenotypes.
Individual-level data from all studies of the IL6-T2DM consortium on Caucasian subjects with available BMI were collected. As study-specific estimates did not show heterogeneity (P>0.1), they were combined by using the inverse-variance fixed-effect model.
The main analysis included 9440, 7398, 24,117, or 5659 nondiabetic and manifest T2DM subjects for fasting glucose, 2-hour glucose, BMI or circulating interleukin-6 levels, respectively. IL6 -174 C-allele carriers had significantly lower fasting glucose (−0.091mmol/L, P=0.014). There was no evidence for association between IL6 -174G>C and BMI or interleukin-6. In an additional analysis of 641 subjects known to develop T2DM later on, the IL6 -174 CC-genotype was associated with higher baseline interleukin-6 (+0.75pg/mL, P=0.004), which was consistent with higher interleukin-6 in the 966 manifest T2DM subjects (+0.50pg/mL, P=0.044).
Our data suggest association between IL6 -174G>C and quantitative glucose, and exploratory analysis indicated modulated interleukin-6 levels in pre-diabetic subjects, being in-line with this SNP’s previously reported T2DM association and a role of circulating interleukin-6 as intermediate phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3801210  PMID: 18752089
blood glucose; body mass index; diabetes mellitus; type 2; epidemiology; molecular; genes; inflammation mediators; interleukin-6; intermediate phenotype; meta-analysis; polymorphism; single nucleotide
15.  Distinct Roles of the Phosphatidate Phosphatases Lipin 1 and 2 during Adipogenesis and Lipid Droplet Biogenesis in 3T3-L1 Cells* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(48):34502-34513.
Background: Lipins are phosphatidate phosphatases that generate diacylglycerol for lipid synthesis.
Results: Lipin 1 or lipin 2 depletion has distinct effects on differentiating adipocytes. Cells depleted of both lipins after initiation of adipogenesis accumulate triacylglycerol but display lipid droplet fragmentation.
Conclusion: Lipins have a role in lipid droplet biogenesis after initiation of adipogenesis.
Significance: Lipins play multiple roles during adipocyte differentiation.
Lipins are evolutionarily conserved Mg2+-dependent phosphatidate phosphatase (PAP) enzymes with essential roles in lipid biosynthesis. Mammals express three paralogues: lipins 1, 2, and 3. Loss of lipin 1 in mice inhibits adipogenesis at an early stage of differentiation and results in a lipodystrophic phenotype. The role of lipins at later stages of adipogenesis, when cells initiate the formation of lipid droplets, is less well characterized. We found that depletion of lipin 1, after the initiation of differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells but before the loading of lipid droplets with triacylglycerol, results in a reciprocal increase of lipin 2, but not lipin 3. We generated 3T3-L1 cells where total lipin protein and PAP activity levels are down-regulated by the combined depletion of lipins 1 and 2 at day 4 of differentiation. These cells still accumulated triacylglycerol but displayed a striking fragmentation of lipid droplets without significantly affecting their total volume per cell. This was due to the lack of the PAP activity of lipin 1 in adipocytes after day 4 of differentiation, whereas depletion of lipin 2 led to an increase of lipid droplet volume per cell. We propose that in addition to their roles during early adipogenesis, lipins also have a role in lipid droplet biogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3843065  PMID: 24133206
Adipocyte; Lipids; Mouse; Phosphatase; Phosphatidate; Triacylglycerol; Lipin
16.  Munc18c in Adipose Tissue Is Downregulated in Obesity and Is Associated with Insulin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63937.
Munc18c is associated with glucose metabolism and could play a relevant role in obesity. However, little is known about the regulation of Munc18c expression. We analyzed Munc18c gene expression in human visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous (SAT) adipose tissue and its relationship with obesity and insulin.
Materials and Methods
We evaluated 70 subjects distributed in 12 non-obese lean subjects, 23 overweight subjects, 12 obese subjects and 23 nondiabetic morbidly obese patients (11 with low insulin resistance and 12 with high insulin resistance).
The lean, overweight and obese persons had a greater Munc18c gene expression in adipose tissue than the morbidly obese patients (p<0.001). VAT Munc18c gene expression was predicted by the body mass index (B = −0.001, p = 0.009). In SAT, no associations were found by different multiple regression analysis models. SAT Munc18c gene expression was the main determinant of the improvement in the HOMA-IR index 15 days after bariatric surgery (B = −2148.4, p = 0.038). SAT explant cultures showed that insulin produced a significant down-regulation of Munc18c gene expression (p = 0.048). This decrease was also obtained when explants were incubated with liver X receptor alpha (LXRα) agonist, either without (p = 0.038) or with insulin (p = 0.050). However, Munc18c gene expression was not affected when explants were incubated with insulin plus a sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c) inhibitor (p = 0.504).
Munc18c gene expression in human adipose tissue is down-regulated in morbid obesity. Insulin may have an effect on the Munc18c expression, probably through LXRα and SREBP-1c.
PMCID: PMC3659121  PMID: 23700440
17.  Arterial Stiffness Is Increased in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes Without Cardiovascular Disease 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(5):1083-1089.
To investigate the relationship between arterial stiffness and low-grade inflammation in subjects with type 1 diabetes without clinical cardiovascular disease.
Sixty-eight patients with type 1 diabetes and 68 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects were evaluated. Arterial stiffness was assessed by aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV). Serum concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), interleukin (IL)-6, and soluble fractions of tumor necrosis factor-α receptors 1 and 2 (sTNFαR1 and sTNFαR2, respectively) were measured. All statistical analyses were stratified by sex.
Subjects with diabetes had a higher aPWV compared with healthy control subjects (men: 6.9 vs. 6.3 m/s, P < 0.001; women: 6.4 vs. 6.0 m/s, P = 0.023). These differences remained significant after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors. Men with diabetes had higher concentrations of hsCRP (1.2 vs. 0.6 mg/L; P = 0.036), IL-6 (0.6 vs. 0.3 pg/mL; P = 0.002), sTNFαR1 (2,739 vs. 1,410 pg/mL; P < 0.001), and sTNFαR2 (2,774 vs. 2,060 pg/mL; P < 0.001). Women with diabetes only had higher concentrations of IL-6 (0.6 vs. 0.4 pg/mL; P = 0.039). In men with diabetes, aPWV correlated positively with hsCRP (r = 0.389; P = 0.031) and IL-6 (r = 0.447; P = 0.008), whereas in women with diabetes no significant correlation was found. In men, multiple linear regression analysis showed that the following variables were associated independently with aPWV: age, BMI, type 1 diabetes, and low-grade inflammation (R2 = 0.543). In women, these variables were age, BMI, mean arterial pressure, and type 1 diabetes (R2 = 0.550).
Arterial stiffness assessed as aPWV is increased in patients with type 1 diabetes without clinical cardiovascular disease, independently of classical cardiovascular risk factors. In men with type 1 diabetes, low-grade inflammation is independently associated with arterial stiffness.
PMCID: PMC3329819  PMID: 22357186
18.  TWEAK: A New Player in Obesity and Diabetes 
Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are associated with chronic low-grade inflammation. Mounting evidence suggests the involvement of an inflammatory switch in adipose tissue, both in mature adipocytes and immune-competent cells from the stromal vascular compartment, in the progression of obesity and insulin resistance. Several inflammatory cytokines secreted by obese adipose tissue, including TNFα and IL-6 have been described as hallmark molecules involved in this process, impairing insulin signaling in insulin-responsive organs. An increasing number of new molecules affecting the local and systemic inflammatory imbalance in obesity and T2D have been identified. In this complex condition, some molecules may exhibit opposing actions, depending on the cell type and on systemic or local influences. Tumor necrosis factor weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK), a cytokine of the tumor necrosis (TNF) superfamily, is gaining attention as an important player in chronic inflammatory diseases. TWEAK can exist as a full-length membrane-associated (mTWEAK) form and as a soluble (sTWEAK) form and, by acting through its cognate receptor Fn14, can control many cellular activities including proliferation, migration, differentiation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and inflammation. Notably, sTWEAK has been proposed as a biomarker of cardiovascular diseases. Here, we will review the recent findings relating to TWEAK and its receptor within the context of obesity and the associated disorder T2D.
PMCID: PMC3874549  PMID: 24416031
TWEAK; obesity; type 2 diabetes; adipose tissue; TNFα; insulin resistance; inflammation
19.  Zinc-α2-Glycoprotein Is Unrelated to Gestational Diabetes: Anthropometric and Metabolic Determinants in Pregnant Women and Their Offspring 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e47601.
Zinc-α2-Glycoprotein (ZAG) is an adipokine with lipolytic action and is positively associated with adiponectin in adipose tissue. We hypothesize that ZAG may be related with hydrocarbonate metabolism disturbances observed in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).
The aim of this study was to analyze serum ZAG concentration and its relationship with carbohydrate metabolism in pregnant women and its influence on fetal growth.
207 pregnant women (130 with normal glucose tolerance (NGT) and 77 with GDM) recruited in the early third trimester and their offspring were studied. Cord blood was obtained at delivery and neonatal anthropometry was assessed in the first 48 hours. ZAG was determined in maternal serum and cord blood.
ZAG concentration was lower in cord blood than in maternal serum, but similar concentration was observed in NGT and GDM pregnant women. Also similar levels were found between offspring of NGT and GDM women. In the bivariate analysis, maternal ZAG (mZAG) was positively correlated with adiponectin and HDL cholesterol, and negatively correlated with insulin and triglyceride concentrations, and HOMA index. On the other hand, cord blood ZAG (cbZAG) was positively correlated with fat-free mass, birth weight and gestational age at delivery. After adjusting for confounding variables, gestational age at delivery and HDL cholesterol emerged as the sole determinants of cord blood ZAG and maternal ZAG concentrations, respectively.
mZAG was not associated with glucose metabolism during pregnancy. ZAG concentration was lower in cord blood compared with maternal serum. cbZAG was independently correlated with gestational age at delivery, suggesting a role during the accelerated fetal growth during latter pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3525576  PMID: 23272038
20.  FABP4 Dynamics in Obesity: Discrepancies in Adipose Tissue and Liver Expression Regarding Circulating Plasma Levels 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48605.
FABP4 is predominantly expressed in adipose tissue, and its circulating levels are linked with obesity and a poor atherogenic profile.
In patients with a wide BMI range, we analyze FABP4 expression in adipose and hepatic tissues in the settings of obesity and insulin resistance. Associations between FABP4 expression in adipose tissue and the FABP4 plasma level as well as the main adipogenic and lipolytic genes expressed in adipose tissue were also analyzed.
The expression of several lipogenic, lipolytic, PPAR family and FABP family genes was analyzed by real time PCR. FABP4 protein expression in total adipose tissues and its fractions were determined by western blot.
In obesity FABP4 expression was down-regulated (at both mRNA and protein levels), with its levels mainly predicted by ATGL and inversely by the HOMA-IR index. The BMI appeared as the only determinant of the FABP4 variation in both adipose tissue depots. FABP4 plasma levels showed a significant progressive increase according to BMI but no association was detected between FABP4 circulating levels and SAT or VAT FABP4 gene expression. The gene expression of FABP1, FABP4 and FABP5 in hepatic tissue was significantly higher in tissue from the obese IR patients compared to the non-IR group.
The inverse pattern in FABP4 expression between adipose and hepatic tissue observed in morbid obese patients, regarding the IR context, suggests that both tissues may act in a balanced manner. These differences may help us to understand the discrepancies between circulating plasma levels and adipose tissue expression in obesity.
PMCID: PMC3489666  PMID: 23139800
21.  Maternal and Cord Blood Adiponectin Multimeric Forms in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(11):2418-2423.
To analyze the relationship between maternal adiponectin (mAdiponectin) and cord blood adiponectin (cbAdiponectin) multimeric forms (high molecular weight [HMW], medium molecular weight [MMW], and low molecular weight [LMW]) in a cohort of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and normal glucose–tolerant (NGT) pregnant women.
A total of 212 women with a singleton pregnancy, 132 with NGT and 80 with GDM, and their offspring were studied. Maternal blood was obtained in the early third trimester and cord blood was obtained at delivery. Total adiponectin and the multimeric forms of adiponectin were determined in cord blood and maternal serum. Spearman rank correlation and stepwise linear correlation analysis were used to assess the relationship between cbAdiponectin levels and clinical and analytical parameters.
No differences in cbAdiponectin concentration or its multimeric forms were observed in the offspring of diabetic mothers compared with NGT mothers. The HMW-to-total adiponectin ratio was higher in cord blood than in maternal serum, whereas the MMW- and LMW-to-total adiponectin ratio was lower. Cord blood total and HMW adiponectin levels were positively correlated with birth weight and the ponderal index (PI), whereas cord blood MMW adiponectin was negatively correlated with the PI. In addition, cbAdiponectin and its multimeric forms were correlated with mAdiponectin concentrations. In the multivariate analysis, maternal multimeric forms of adiponectin emerged as independent predictors of cbAdiponectin, its multimers, and their distribution.
cbAdiponectin concentrations are independently related to mAdiponectin levels and unrelated to the diagnosis of GDM. Maternal multimeric forms of adiponectin are independent predictors of the concentrations of cbAdiponectin and its multimeric forms at delivery.
PMCID: PMC3198272  PMID: 21911780
22.  Serum Levels of TWEAK and Scavenger Receptor CD163 in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: Relationship with Cardiovascular Risk Factors. A Case-Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43919.
To test the usefulness of serum concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (sTWEAK) and soluble scavenger receptor CD163 (sCD163) as markers of subtle inflammation in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) without clinical cardiovascular (CV) disease and to evaluate their relationship with arterial stiffness (AS).
Sixty-eight patients with T1DM and 68 age and sex-matched, healthy subjects were evaluated. Anthropometrical variables and CV risk factors were recorded. Serum concentrations of sTWEAK and sCD163 were measured. AS was assessed by aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV). All statistical analyses were stratified by gender.
T1DM patients showed lower serum concentrations of sTWEAK (Men: 1636.5 (1146.3–3754.8) pg/mL vs. 765.9 (650.4–1097.1) pg/mL; p<0.001. Women: 1401.0 (788.0–2422.2) pg/mL vs. 830.1 (562.6–1175.9) pg/mL; p = 0.011) compared with their respective controls. Additionally, T1DM men had higher serum concentrations of sCD163 (285.0 (247.7–357.1) ng/mL vs. 224.8 (193.3–296.5) ng/mL; p = 0.012) compared with their respective controls. sTWEAK correlated negatively with aPWV in men (r = −0.443; p<0.001). However, this association disappeared after adjusting for potential confounders. In men, the best multiple linear regression model showed that the independent predictors of sTWEAK were T1DM and WHR (R2 = 0.640; p<0.001). In women, T1DM and SBP were the independent predictors for sTWEAK (R2 = 0.231; p = 0.001).
sTWEAK is decreased in T1DM patients compared with age and sex-matched healthy subjects after adjusting for classic CV risk factors, although sTWEAK levels may be partially influenced by some of them. Additionally, T1DM men have higher serum concentrations of sCD163. These results point out an association between the inflammatory system and CV risk in T1DM.
PMCID: PMC3427173  PMID: 22937125
23.  CD14 Modulates Inflammation-Driven Insulin Resistance 
Diabetes  2011;60(8):2179-2186.
The study objective was to evaluate the possible role of the macrophage molecule CD14 in insulin resistance.
The effects of recombinant human soluble CD14 (rh-sCD14) on insulin sensitivity (clamp procedure) and adipose tissue gene expression were evaluated in wild-type (WT) mice, high fat–fed mice, ob/ob mice, and CD14 knockout (KO) mice. We also studied WT mice grafted with bone marrow stem cells from WT donor mice and CD14 KO mice. Finally, CD14 was evaluated in human adipose tissue and during differentiation of human preadipocytes.
rh-sCD14 led to increased insulin action in WT mice, high-fat–fed mice, and ob/ob mice, but not in CD14 KO mice, in parallel to a marked change in the expression of 3,479 genes in adipose tissue. The changes in gene families related to lipid metabolism were most remarkable. WT mice grafted with bone marrow stem cells from WT donor mice became insulin resistant after a high-fat diet. Conversely, WT mice grafted with cells from CD14 KO mice resisted the occurrence of insulin resistance in parallel to decreased mesenteric adipose tissue inflammatory gene expression. Glucose intolerance did not worsen in CD14 KO mice grafted with bone marrow stem cells from high fat–fed WT mice when compared with recipient KO mice grafted with cells from CD14 KO donor mice. CD14 gene expression was increased in whole adipose tissue and adipocytes from obese humans and further increased after tumor necrosis factor-α.
CD14 modulates adipose tissue inflammatory activity and insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3142089  PMID: 21700881
24.  Obesity-associated insulin resistance is correlated to adipose tissue vascular endothelial growth factors and metalloproteinase levels 
BMC Physiology  2012;12:4.
The expansion of adipose tissue is linked to the development of its vasculature, which appears to have the potential to regulate the onset of obesity. However, at present, there are no studies highlighting the relationship between human adipose tissue angiogenesis and obesity-associated insulin resistance (IR).
Our aim was to analyze and compare angiogenic factor expression levels in both subcutaneous (SC) and omentum (OM) adipose tissues from morbidly obese patients (n = 26) with low (OB/L-IR) (healthy obese) and high (OB/H-IR) degrees of IR, and lean controls (n = 17). Another objective was to examine angiogenic factor correlations with obesity and IR.
Here we found that VEGF-A was the isoform with higher expression in both OM and SC adipose tissues, and was up-regulated 3-fold, together with MMP9 in OB/L-IR as compared to leans. This up-regulation decreased by 23% in OB/-H-IR compared to OB/L-IR. On the contrary, VEGF-B, VEGF-C and VEGF-D, together with MMP15 was down-regulated in both OB/H-IR and OB/L-IR compared to lean patients. Moreover, MMP9 correlated positively and VEGF-C, VEGF-D and MMP15 correlated negatively with HOMA-IR, in both SC and OM.
We hereby propose that the alteration in MMP15, VEGF-B, VEGF-C and VEGF-D gene expression may be caused by one of the relevant adipose tissue processes related to the development of IR, and the up-regulation of VEGF-A in adipose tissue could have a relationship with the prevention of this pathology.
PMCID: PMC3382430  PMID: 22471305
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Metalloproteinase; Obesity; Insulin Resistance; Omentum Adipose Tissue; Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue
25.  Zinc-Alpha 2-Glycoprotein Gene Expression in Adipose Tissue Is Related with Insulin Resistance and Lipolytic Genes in Morbidly Obese Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33264.
Zinc-α2 glycoprotein (ZAG) stimulates lipid loss by adipocytes and may be involved in the regulation of adipose tissue metabolism. However, to date no studies have been made in the most extreme of obesity. The aims of this study are to analyze ZAG expression levels in adipose tissue from morbidly obese patients, and their relationship with lipogenic and lipolytic genes and with insulin resistance (IR).
mRNA expression levels of PPARγ, IRS-1, IRS-2, lipogenic and lipolytic genes and ZAG were quantified in visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) of 25 nondiabetic morbidly obese patients, 11 with low IR and 14 with high IR. Plasma ZAG was also analyzed.
The morbidly obese patients with low IR had a higher VAT ZAG expression as compared with the patients with high IR (p = 0.023). In the patients with low IR, the VAT ZAG expression was greater than that in SAT (p = 0.009). ZAG expression correlated between SAT and VAT (r = 0.709, p<0.001). VAT ZAG expression was mainly predicted by insulin, HOMA-IR, plasma adiponectin and expression of adiponectin and ACSS2. SAT ZAG expression was only predicted by expression of ATGL.
ZAG could be involved in modulating lipid metabolism in adipose tissue and is associated with insulin resistance. These findings suggest that ZAG may be a useful target in obesity and related disorders, such as diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3307730  PMID: 22442679

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