Animal models suggest that acetylcarnitine production is essential for maintaining metabolic flexibility and insulin sensitivity. Because current methods to detect acetylcarnitine involve biopsy of the tissue of interest, noninvasive alternatives to measure acetylcarnitine concentrations could facilitate our understanding of its physiological relevance in humans. Here, we investigated the use of long-echo time (TE) proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) to measure skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine concentrations on a clinical 3T scanner. We applied long-TE 1H-MRS to measure acetylcarnitine in endurance-trained athletes, lean and obese sedentary subjects, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients to cover a wide spectrum in insulin sensitivity. A long-TE 1H-MRS protocol was implemented for successful detection of skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine in these individuals. There were pronounced differences in insulin sensitivity, as measured by hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, and skeletal muscle mitochondrial function, as measured by phosphorus-MRS (31P-MRS), across groups. Insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function were highest in trained athletes and lowest in T2DM patients. Skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine concentration showed a reciprocal distribution, with mean acetylcarnitine concentration correlating with mean insulin sensitivity in each group. These results demonstrate that measuring acetylcarnitine concentrations with 1H-MRS is feasible on clinical MR scanners and support the hypothesis that T2DM patients are characterized by a decreased formation of acetylcarnitine, possibly underlying decreased insulin sensitivity.
Impaired capacity of skeletal muscle to switch between the oxidation of fatty acid (FA) and glucose is linked to disordered metabolic homeostasis. To understand how muscle FA oxidation affects systemic glucose, we studied mice with a skeletal muscle-specific deficiency of long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase-1 (ACSL1). ACSL1 deficiency caused a 91% loss of ACSL specific activity and 60-85% decreases in muscle FA oxidation. Acsl1(M-/-) mice were more insulin-sensitive, and during an overnight fast, their respiratory exchange ratio was higher, indicating greater glucose use. During endurance exercise, Acsl1(M-/-) mice ran only 48% as far as controls. At the time that Acsl1(M-/-) mice were exhausted but control mice continued to run, liver and muscle glycogen and triacylglycerol stores were similar in both genotypes; however, Acsl1(M-/-) plasma glucose concentrations were ?40 mg/dl, whereas control glucose levels were ?90 mg/dl. Excess use of glucose and the likely use of amino acids for fuel within muscle depleted glucose reserves and diminished substrate availability for hepatic gluconeogenesis. Surprisingly, the content of muscle acyl-CoA at exhaustion was markedly elevated, indicating that acyl-CoAs synthesized by other ACSL isoforms were not available for ?-oxidation. This compartmentalization of acyl-CoAs resulted in both an excessive glucose requirement and severely compromised systemic glucose homeostasis.
We previously demonstrated that micro-RNAs (miRNAs) 132 and 212 are differentially upregulated in response to obesity in two mouse strains that differ in their susceptibility to obesity-induced diabetes. Here we show the overexpression of miRNAs 132 and 212 enhances insulin secretion (IS) in response to glucose and other secretagogues including nonfuel stimuli. We determined that carnitine acyl-carnitine translocase (CACT; Slc25a20) is a direct target of these miRNAs. CACT is responsible for transporting long-chain acyl-carnitines into the mitochondria for ?-oxidation. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of CACT in ?-cells led to the accumulation of fatty acyl-carnitines and enhanced IS. The addition of long-chain fatty acyl-carnitines promoted IS from rat insulinoma ?-cells (INS-1) as well as primary mouse islets. The effect on INS-1 cells was augmented in response to suppression of CACT. A nonhydrolyzable ether analog of palmitoyl-carnitine stimulated IS, showing that ?-oxidation of palmitoyl-carnitine is not required for its stimulation of IS. These studies establish a link between miRNA-dependent regulation of CACT and fatty acyl-carnitine-mediated regulation of IS.
Targeted metabolomic and transcriptomic approaches were used to evaluate the relationship between skeletal muscle metabolite signatures, gene expression profiles and clinical outcomes in response to various exercise training interventions. We hypothesised that changes in mitochondrial metabolic intermediates would predict improvements in clinical risk factors, thereby offering novel insights into potential mechanisms.
There is a growing need to understand the underlying mechanisms involved in the progression of cardiovascular disease during obesity and diabetes. Although inhibition of fatty acid oxidation has been proposed as a novel approach to treat ischemic heart disease and heart failure, reduced muscle fatty acid oxidation rates may contribute to the development of obesity-associated insulin resistance. Our aim was to determine whether treatment with the antianginal agent trimetazidine, which inhibits fatty acid oxidation in the heart secondary to inhibition of 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase (3-KAT), may have off-target effects on glycemic control in obesity. We fed C57BL/6NCrl mice a high-fat diet (HFD) for 10 weeks before a 22-day treatment with the 3-KAT inhibitor trimetazidine (15 mg/kg per day). Insulin resistance was assessed via glucose/insulin tolerance testing, and lipid metabolite content was assessed in gastrocnemius muscle. Trimetazidine-treatment led to a mild shift in substrate preference toward carbohydrates as an oxidative fuel source in obese mice, evidenced by an increase in the respiratory exchange ratio. This shift in metabolism was accompanied by an accumulation of long-chain acyl-CoA and a trend to an increase in triacylglycerol content in gastrocnemius muscle, but did not exacerbate HFD-induced insulin resistance compared with control-treated mice. It is noteworthy that trimetazidine treatment reduced palmitate oxidation rates in the isolated working mouse heart and neonatal cardiomyocytes but not C2C12 skeletal myotubes. Our findings demonstrate that trimetazidine therapy does not adversely affect HFD-induced insulin resistance, suggesting that treatment with trimetazidine would not worsen glycemic control in obese patients with angina.
Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) is an ?-arrestin family member involved in redox sensing and metabolic control. Growing evidence links TXNIP to mitochondrial function, but the molecular nature of this relationship has remained poorly defined. Herein, we employed targeted metabolomics and comprehensive bioenergetic analyses to evaluate oxidative metabolism and respiratory kinetics in mouse models of total body (TKO) and skeletal muscle-specific (TXNIP(SKM-/-)) Txnip deficiency. Compared with littermate controls, both TKO and TXNIP(SKM-/-) mice had reduced exercise tolerance in association with muscle-specific impairments in substrate oxidation. Oxidative insufficiencies in TXNIP null muscles were not due to perturbations in mitochondrial mass, the electron transport chain, or emission of reactive oxygen species. Instead, metabolic profiling analyses led to the discovery that TXNIP deficiency causes marked deficits in enzymes required for catabolism of branched chain amino acids, ketones, and lactate, along with more modest reductions in enzymes of ?-oxidation and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. The decrements in enzyme activity were accompanied by comparable deficits in protein abundance without changes in mRNA expression, implying dysregulation of protein synthesis or stability. Considering that TXNIP expression increases in response to starvation, diabetes, and exercise, these findings point to a novel role for TXNIP in coordinating mitochondrial fuel switching in response to nutrient availability.
Carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT) is a mitochondrial matrix enzyme that catalyzes the interconversion of acetyl-CoA and acetylcarnitine. Emerging evidence suggests that this enzyme functions as a positive regulator of total body glucose tolerance and muscle activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), a mitochondrial enzyme complex that promotes glucose oxidation and is feedback inhibited by acetyl-CoA. Here, we used tandem mass spectrometry-based metabolic profiling to identify a negative relationship between CrAT activity and muscle content of lipid intermediates. CrAT specific activity was diminished in muscles from obese and diabetic rodents despite increased protein abundance. This reduction in enzyme activity was accompanied by muscle accumulation of long-chain acylcarnitines (LCACs) and acyl-CoAs and a decline in the acetylcarnitine/acetyl-CoA ratio. In vitro assays demonstrated that palmitoyl-CoA acts as a direct mixed-model inhibitor of CrAT. Similarly, in primary human myocytes grown in culture, nutritional and genetic manipulations that promoted mitochondrial influx of fatty acids resulted in accumulation of LCACs but a pronounced decrease of CrAT-derived short-chain acylcarnitines. These results suggest that lipid-induced antagonism of CrAT might contribute to decreased PDH activity and glucose disposal in the context of obesity and diabetes.
Increasing evidence has shown that proper control of mitochondrial dynamics (fusion and fission) is required for high capacity ATP production in heart. The transcriptional coactivators, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 (PGC-1) ? and ? have been shown to regulate mitochondrial biogenesis in heart at the time of birth. The function of the PGC-1 coactivators in heart after birth is incompletely understood.
Four glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) isoforms, each encoded by a separate gene, catalyze the initial step in glycerolipid synthesis; in liver, the major isoforms are GPAT1 and GPAT4. To determine whether each of these hepatic isoforms performs a unique function in the metabolism of fatty acid, we measured the incorporation of de novo synthesized fatty acid or exogenous fatty acid into complex lipids in primary mouse hepatocytes from control, Gpat1(-/-), and Gpat4(-/-) mice. Although hepatocytes from each genotype incorporated a similar amount of exogenous fatty acid into triacylglycerol (TAG), only control and Gpat4(-/-) hepatocytes were able to incorporate de novo synthesized fatty acid into TAG. When compared with controls, Gpat1(-/-) hepatocytes oxidized twice as much exogenous fatty acid. To confirm these findings and to assess hepatic ?-oxidation metabolites, we measured acylcarnitines in liver from mice after a 24-h fast and after a 24-h fast followed by 48 h of refeeding with a high sucrose diet to promote lipogenesis. Confirming the in vitro findings, the hepatic content of long-chain acylcarnitine in fasted Gpat1(-/-) mice was 3-fold higher than in controls. When compared with control and Gpat4(-/-) mice, after the fasting-refeeding protocol, Gpat1(-/-) hepatic TAG was depleted, and long-chain acylcarnitine content was 3.5-fold higher. Taken together, these data demonstrate that GPAT1, but not GPAT4, is required to incorporate de novo synthesized fatty acids into TAG and to divert them away from oxidation.
Lipid metabolism is tightly controlled by the nutritional state of the organism. Nutrient-rich conditions increase lipogenesis, whereas nutrient deprivation promotes fat oxidation. In this study, we identify the mitochondrial sirtuin, SIRT4, as a regulator of lipid homeostasis. SIRT4 is active in nutrient-replete conditions to repress fatty acid oxidation while promoting lipid anabolism. SIRT4 deacetylates and inhibits malonyl CoA decarboxylase (MCD), an enzyme that produces acetyl CoA from malonyl CoA. Malonyl CoA provides the carbon skeleton for lipogenesis and also inhibits fat oxidation. Mice lacking SIRT4 display elevated MCD activity and decreased malonyl CoA in skeletal muscle and white adipose tissue. Consequently, SIRT4 KO mice display deregulated lipid metabolism, leading to increased exercise tolerance and protection against diet-induced obesity. In sum, this work elucidates SIRT4 as an important regulator of lipid homeostasis, identifies MCD as a SIRT4 target, and deepens our understanding of the malonyl CoA regulatory axis.
Differences in chromatin organization are key to the multiplicity of cell states that arise from a single genetic background, yet the landscapes of in vivo tissues remain largely uncharted. Here, we mapped chromatin genome-wide in a large and diverse collection of human tissues and stem cells. The maps yield unprecedented annotations of functional genomic elements and their regulation across developmental stages, lineages, and cellular environments. They also reveal global features of the epigenome, related to nuclear architecture, that also vary across cellular phenotypes. Specifically, developmental specification is accompanied by progressive chromatin restriction as the default state transitions from dynamic remodeling to generalized compaction. Exposure to serum in vitro triggers a distinct transition that involves de novo establishment of domains with features of constitutive heterochromatin. We describe how these global chromatin state transitions relate to chromosome and nuclear architecture, and discuss their implications for lineage fidelity, cellular senescence, and reprogramming.
Triacylglyceride stored in cytosolic lipid droplets (LDs) constitutes a major energy reservoir in most eukaryotes. The regulated turnover of triacylglyceride in LDs provides fatty acids for mitochondrial ?-oxidation and ATP generation in physiological states of high demand for energy. The mechanisms for the formation of LDs in conditions of energy excess are not entirely understood. Fat storage-inducing transmembrane protein 2 (FIT2/FITM2) is the anciently conserved member of the fat storage-inducing transmembrane family of proteins implicated to be important in the formation of LDs, but its role in energy metabolism has not been tested. Here, we report that expression of FIT2 in mouse skeletal muscle had profound effects on muscle energy metabolism. Mice with skeletal muscle-specific overexpression of FIT2 (CKF2) had significantly increased intramyocellular triacylglyceride and complete protection from high fat diet-induced weight gain due to increased energy expenditure. Mass spectrometry-based metabolite profiling suggested that CKF2 skeletal muscle had increased oxidation of branched chain amino acids but decreased oxidation of fatty acids. Glucose was primarily utilized in CKF2 muscle for synthesis of the glycerol backbone of triacylglyceride and not for glycogen production. CKF2 muscle was ATP-deficient and had activated AMP kinase. Together, these studies indicate that FIT2 expression in skeletal muscle plays an unexpected function in regulating muscle energy metabolism and indicates an important role for lipid droplet formation in this process.
Adipocyte infiltration of the musculoskeletal system is well recognized as a hallmark of aging, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Intermuscular adipocytes might serve as a benign storage site for surplus lipid or play a role in disrupting energy homeostasis as a result of dysregulated lipolysis or secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. This investigation sought to understand the net impact of local adipocytes on skeletal myocyte metabolism.
Long-chain acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) synthetase isoform 1 (ACSL1) catalyzes the synthesis of acyl-CoA from long-chain fatty acids and contributes the majority of cardiac long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase activity. To understand its functional role in the heart, we studied mice lacking ACSL1 globally (Acsl1(T-/-)) and mice lacking ACSL1 in heart ventricles (Acsl1(H-/-)) at different times. Compared to littermate controls, heart ventricular ACSL activity in Acsl1(T-/-) mice was reduced more than 90%, acyl-CoA content was 65% lower, and long-chain acyl-carnitine content was 80 to 90% lower. The rate of [(14)C]palmitate oxidation in both heart homogenate and mitochondria was 90% lower than in the controls, and the maximal rates of [(14)C]pyruvate and [(14)C]glucose oxidation were each 20% higher. The mitochondrial area was 54% greater than in the controls with twice as much mitochondrial DNA, and the mRNA abundance of Pgc1? and Err? increased by 100% and 41%, respectively. Compared to the controls, Acsl1(T-/-) and Acsl1(H-/-) hearts were hypertrophied, and the phosphorylation of S6 kinase, a target of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase, increased 5-fold. Our data suggest that ACSL1 is required to synthesize the acyl-CoAs that are oxidized by the heart, and that without ACSL1, diminished fatty acid (FA) oxidation and compensatory catabolism of glucose and amino acids lead to mTOR activation and cardiac hypertrophy without lipid accumulation or immediate cardiac dysfunction.
In cultured cells, palmitic acid (PA) and oleic acid (OA) confer distinct metabolic effects, yet, unclear, is whether changes in dietary fat intake impact cellular fatty acid (FA) composition. We hypothesized that short-term increases in dietary PA or OA would result in corresponding changes in the FA composition of skeletal muscle diacylglycerol (DAG) and triacylglycerol (TAG) and/or the specific FA selected for ?-oxidation. Healthy males (N = 12) and females (N = 12) ingested a low-PA diet for 7 days. After fasting measurements of the serum acylcarnitine (AC) profile, subjects were randomized to either high-PA (HI PA) or low-PA/high-OA (HI OA) diets. After 7 days, the fasting AC measurement was repeated and a muscle/fat biopsy obtained. FA composition of intramyocellular DAG and TAG and serum AC was measured. HI PA increased, whereas HI OA decreased, serum concentration of 16:0 AC (P < 0.001). HI OA increased 18:1 AC (P = 0.005). HI PA was associated with a higher PA/OA ratio in muscle DAG and TAG (DAG: 1.03 ± 0.24 vs. 0.46 ± 0.08, P = 0.04; TAG: 0.63 ± 0.07 vs. 0.41 ± 0.03, P = 0.01). The PA concentration in the adipose tissue DAG (µg/mg adipose tissue) was 0.17 ± 0.02 in those receiving the HI PA diet (n = 6), compared to 0.11 ± 0.02 in the HI OA group (n = 4) (P = 0.067). The relative PA concentration in muscle DAG and TAG and the serum palmitoylcarnitine concentration was higher in those fed the high-PA diet.
It has been proposed that skeletal muscle insulin resistance arises from the accumulation of intramyocellular lipid metabolites that impede insulin signaling, including diacylglycerol and ceramide. We determined the role of de novo ceramide synthesis in mediating muscle insulin resistance.
Interest in the pathophysiological relevance of intramuscular triacylglycerol (IMTG) accumulation has grown from numerous studies reporting that abnormally high glycerolipid levels in tissues of obese and diabetic subjects correlate negatively with glucose tolerance. Here, we used a hindlimb perfusion model to examine the impact of obesity and elevated IMTG levels on contraction-induced changes in skeletal muscle fuel metabolism. Comprehensive lipid profiling was performed on gastrocnemius muscles harvested from lean and obese Zucker rats immediately and 25 min after 15 min of one-legged electrically stimulated contraction compared with the contralateral control (rested) limbs. Predictably, IMTG content was grossly elevated in control muscles from obese rats compared with their lean counterparts. In muscles of obese (but not lean) rats, contraction resulted in marked hydrolysis of IMTG, which was then restored to near resting levels during 25 min of recovery. Despite dramatic phenotypical differences in contraction-induced IMTG turnover, muscle levels of diacylglycerol (DAG) and long-chain acyl-CoAs (LCACoA) were surprisingly similar between groups. Tissue profiles of acylcarnitine metabolites suggested that the surfeit of IMTG in obese rats fueled higher rates of fat oxidation relative to the lean group. Muscles of the obese rats had reduced lactate levels immediately following contraction and higher glycogen resynthesis during recovery, consistent with a lipid-associated glucose-sparing effect. Together, these findings suggest that contraction-induced mobilization of local lipid reserves in obese muscles promotes beta-oxidation, while discouraging glucose utilization. Further studies are necessary to determine whether persistent oxidation of IMTG-derived fatty acids contributes to systemic glucose intolerance in other physiological settings.
Although advanced age is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, a clear understanding of the changes that occur during middle age that contribute to the development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance is currently lacking. Therefore, we sought to investigate how middle age impacts skeletal muscle fatty acid handling and to determine how this contributes to the development of diet-induced insulin resistance.
To determine whether the obesity-related decrement in fatty acid oxidation (FAO) in primary human skeletal muscle cells (HSkMC) is linked with lower mitochondrial content and whether this deficit could be corrected via overexpression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1alpha (PGC-1alpha).
Long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase-1 (ACSL1) contributes 80% of total ACSL activity in adipose tissue and was believed to be essential for the synthesis of triacylglycerol. We predicted that an adipose-specific knockout of ACSL1 (Acsl1(A-/-)) would be lipodystrophic, but compared to controls, Acsl1(A-/-) mice had 30% greater fat mass when fed a low-fat diet and gained weight normally when fed a high-fat diet. Acsl1(A-/-) adipocytes incorporated [(14)C]oleate into glycerolipids normally, but fatty acid (FA) oxidation rates were 50%-90% lower than in control adipocytes and mitochondria. Acsl1(A-/-) mice were markedly cold intolerant, and beta(3)-adrenergic agonists did not increase oxygen consumption, despite normal adrenergic signaling in brown adipose tissue. The reduced adipose FA oxidation and marked cold intolerance of Acsl1(A-/-) mice indicate that normal activation of FA for oxidation in adipose tissue in vivo requires ACSL1. Thus, ACSL1 has a specific function in directing the metabolic partitioning of FAs toward beta-oxidation in adipocytes.
Peripheral insulin resistance is linked to an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading in part to the production of reactive lipid aldehydes that modify the side chains of protein amino acids in a reaction termed protein carbonylation. The primary enzymatic method for lipid aldehyde detoxification is via glutathione S-transferase A4 (GSTA4) dependent glutathionylation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the expression of GSTA4 and the role(s) of protein carbonylation in adipocyte function.
Although lactic acidosis is a prominent feature of solid tumors, we still have limited understanding of the mechanisms by which lactic acidosis influences metabolic phenotypes of cancer cells. We compared global transcriptional responses of breast cancer cells in response to three distinct tumor microenvironmental stresses: lactic acidosis, glucose deprivation, and hypoxia. We found that lactic acidosis and glucose deprivation trigger highly similar transcriptional responses, each inducing features of starvation response. In contrast to their comparable effects on gene expression, lactic acidosis and glucose deprivation have opposing effects on glucose uptake. This divergence of metabolic responses in the context of highly similar transcriptional responses allows the identification of a small subset of genes that are regulated in opposite directions by these two conditions. Among these selected genes, TXNIP and its paralogue ARRDC4 are both induced under lactic acidosis and repressed with glucose deprivation. This induction of TXNIP under lactic acidosis is caused by the activation of the glucose-sensing helix-loop-helix transcriptional complex MondoA:Mlx, which is usually triggered upon glucose exposure. Therefore, the upregulation of TXNIP significantly contributes to inhibition of tumor glycolytic phenotypes under lactic acidosis. Expression levels of TXNIP and ARRDC4 in human cancers are also highly correlated with predicted lactic acidosis pathway activities and associated with favorable clinical outcomes. Lactic acidosis triggers features of starvation response while activating the glucose-sensing MondoA-TXNIP pathways and contributing to the "anti-Warburg" metabolic effects and anti-tumor properties of cancer cells. These results stem from integrative analysis of transcriptome and metabolic response data under various tumor microenvironmental stresses and open new paths to explore how these stresses influence phenotypic and metabolic adaptations in human cancers.
The term lipotoxicity elicits visions of steatotic liver, fat laden skeletal muscles and engorged lipid droplets that spawn a number of potentially harmful intermediates that can wreak havoc on signal transduction and organ function. Prominent among these so-called lipotoxic mediators are signaling molecules such as long chain acyl-CoAs, ceramides and diacyglycerols; each of which is thought to engage serine kinases that disrupt the insulin signaling cascade, thereby causing insulin resistance. Defects in skeletal muscle fat oxidation have been implicated as a driving factor contributing to systemic lipid imbalance, whereas exercise-induced enhancement of oxidative potential is considered protective. The past decade of diabetes research has focused heavily on the foregoing scenario, and indeed the model is grounded in strong experimental evidence, albeit largely correlative. This review centers on mechanisms that connect lipid surplus to insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, as well as those that underlie the antilipotoxic actions of exercise. Emphasis is placed on recent studies that challenge accepted paradigms.
In mammals, a family of five acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSLs), each the product of a separate gene, activates long chain fatty acids to form acyl-CoAs. Because the ACSL isoforms have overlapping preferences for fatty acid chain length and saturation and are expressed in many of the same tissues, the individual function of each isoform has remained uncertain. Thus, we constructed a mouse model with a liver-specific knock-out of ACSL1, a major ACSL isoform in liver. Eliminating ACSL1 in liver resulted in a 50% decrease in total hepatic ACSL activity and a 25-35% decrease in long chain acyl-CoA content. Although the content of triacylglycerol was unchanged in Acsl1(L)(-/-) liver after mice were fed either low or high fat diets, in isolated primary hepatocytes the absence of ACSL1 diminished the incorporation of [(14)C]oleate into triacylglycerol. Further, small but consistent increases were observed in the percentage of 16:0 in phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine and of 18:1 in phosphatidylethanolamine and lysophosphatidylcholine, whereas concomitant decreases were seen in 18:0 in phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and lysophosphatidylcholine. In addition, decreases in long chain acylcarnitine content and diminished production of acid-soluble metabolites from [(14)C]oleate suggested that hepatic ACSL1 is important for mitochondrial beta-oxidation of long chain fatty acids. Because the Acsl1(L)(-/-) mice were not protected from developing either high fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis or insulin resistance, our study suggests that lowering the content of hepatic acyl-CoA without a concomitant decrease in triacylglycerol and other lipid intermediates is insufficient to protect against hepatic insulin resistance.
In addition to its essential role in permitting mitochondrial import and oxidation of long chain fatty acids, carnitine also functions as an acyl group acceptor that facilitates mitochondrial export of excess carbons in the form of acylcarnitines. Recent evidence suggests carnitine requirements increase under conditions of sustained metabolic stress. Accordingly, we hypothesized that carnitine insufficiency might contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction and obesity-related impairments in glucose tolerance. Consistent with this prediction whole body carnitine diminution was identified as a common feature of insulin-resistant states such as advanced age, genetic diabetes, and diet-induced obesity. In rodents fed a lifelong (12 month) high fat diet, compromised carnitine status corresponded with increased skeletal muscle accumulation of acylcarnitine esters and diminished hepatic expression of carnitine biosynthetic genes. Diminished carnitine reserves in muscle of obese rats was accompanied by marked perturbations in mitochondrial fuel metabolism, including low rates of complete fatty acid oxidation, elevated incomplete beta-oxidation, and impaired substrate switching from fatty acid to pyruvate. These mitochondrial abnormalities were reversed by 8 weeks of oral carnitine supplementation, in concert with increased tissue efflux and urinary excretion of acetylcarnitine and improvement of whole body glucose tolerance. Acetylcarnitine is produced by the mitochondrial matrix enzyme, carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT). A role for this enzyme in combating glucose intolerance was further supported by the finding that CrAT overexpression in primary human skeletal myocytes increased glucose uptake and attenuated lipid-induced suppression of glucose oxidation. These results implicate carnitine insufficiency and reduced CrAT activity as reversible components of the metabolic syndrome.
Whereas an impaired ability to oxidize fatty acids is thought to contribute to intracellular lipid accumulation, insulin resistance, and cardiac dysfunction, high rates of fatty acid oxidation could also impair glucose metabolism and function. We therefore determined the effects of diet-induced obesity (DIO) in wild-type (WT) mice and mice deficient for malonyl CoA decarboxylase (MCD(-/-); an enzyme promoting mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation) on insulin-sensitive cardiac glucose oxidation.
The Study of the Effects of Diet on Metabolism and Nutrition (STEDMAN) Project uses comprehensive metabolic profiling to probe biochemical mechanisms of weight loss in humans. Measurements at baseline, 2 and 4 weeks, 6 and 12 months included diet, body composition, metabolic rate, hormones, and 80 intermediary metabolites measured by mass spectrometry. In 27 obese adults in a behavioral weight loss intervention, median weight decreased 13.9 lb over the first 6 months, then reverted towards baseline by 12 months. Insulin resistance (HOMA) was partially ameliorated in the first 6 months and showed sustained improvement at 12 months despite weight regain. Ghrelin increased with weight loss and reverted to baseline, whereas leptin and PYY fell at 6 months and remained persistently low. NPY levels did not change. Factors possibly contributing to sustained improvement in insulin sensitivity despite weight regain include adiponectin (increased by 12 months), IGF-1 (increased during weight loss and continued to increase during weight regain), and visceral fat (fell at 6 months but did not change thereafter). We observed a persistent reduction in free fatty acids, branched chain amino acids, and related metabolites that may contribute to improved insulin action. These findings provide evidence for sustained benefits of weight loss in obese humans and insights into mechanisms.
Collectrin is a downstream target of the transcription factor hepatocyte nuclear factor-1alpha (HNF-1alpha), which is mutated in maturity-onset diabetes of the young subtype 3 (MODY3). Evidence from transgenic mouse models with collectrin overexpression in pancreatic islets suggests divergent roles for collectrin in influencing beta-cell mass and insulin exocytosis. To clarify the function of collectrin in the pancreas, we used a mouse line with targeted deletion of the gene. We examined pancreas morphology, glucose homeostasis by ip glucose tolerance testing (IPGTT) and insulin tolerance testing (IPITT), and pancreas function by in vivo acute-phase insulin response determination and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from isolated islets. We find no difference in either pancreas morphology or function between wild-type and collectrin-deficient animals (Tmem27(-/y)). However, we note that by 6 months of age, Tmem27(-/y) mice exhibit increased insulin sensitivity by IPITT and decreased adiposity by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scanning compared with wild-type. We have previously reported that Tmem27(-/y) mice exhibit profound aminoaciduria due to failed renal recovery. We now demonstrate that Tmem27(-/y) animals also display inappropriate excretion of some short-chain acylcarnitines derived from amino acid and fatty acid oxidation. We provide further evidence for compensatory up-regulation of oxidative metabolism in Tmem27(-/y) mice, along with enhanced protein turnover associated with preserved lean mass even out to 1.5 yr of age. Our studies suggest that collectrin-deficient mice activate a number of adaptive mechanisms to defend energy homeostasis in the setting of ongoing nutrient losses.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPARalpha) is a master transcriptional regulator of beta-oxidation and a prominent target of hypolipidemic drugs. To gain deeper insights into the systemic consequences of impaired fat catabolism, we used quantitative, mass spectrometry-based metabolic profiling to investigate the fed-to-fasted transition in PPARalpha(+/+) and PPARalpha(-/-) mice. Compared to PPARalpha(+/+) animals, acylcarnitine profiles of PPARalpha(-/-) mice revealed 2- to 4-fold accumulation of long-chain species in the plasma, whereas short-chain species were reduced by as much as 69% in plasma, liver, and skeletal muscle. These results reflect a metabolic bottleneck downstream of carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1, a mitochondrial enzyme that catalyzes the first step in beta-oxidation. Organic and amino acid profiles of starved PPARalpha(-/-) mice suggested compromised citric acid cycle flux, enhanced urea cycle activity, and increased amino acid catabolism. PPARalpha(-/-) mice had 40-50% lower plasma and tissue levels of free carnitine, corresponding with diminished hepatic expression of genes involved in carnitine biosynthesis and transport. One week of oral carnitine supplementation conferred partial metabolic recovery in the PPARalpha(-/-) mice. In summary, comprehensive metabolic profiling revealed novel biomarkers of defective fat oxidation, while also highlighting the potential value of supplemental carnitine as a therapy and diagnostic tool for metabolic disorders.
Relative to diets enriched in palmitic acid (PA), diets rich in oleic acid (OA) are associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. To gain insight into mechanisms underlying these observations, we applied comprehensive lipidomic profiling to specimens collected from healthy adults enrolled in a randomized, crossover trial comparing a high-PA diet to a low-PA/high-OA (HOA) diet. Effects on insulin sensitivity (SI) and disposition index (DI) were assessed by intravenous glucose tolerance testing. In women, but not men, SI and DI were higher during HOA. The effect of HOA on SI correlated positively with physical fitness upon enrollment. Principal components analysis of either fasted or fed-state metabolites identified one factor affected by diet and heavily weighted by the PA/OA ratio of serum and muscle lipids. In women, this factor correlated inversely with SI in the fasted and fed states. Medium-chain acylcarnitines emerged as strong negative correlates of SI, and the HOA diet was accompanied by lower serum and muscle ceramide concentrations and reductions in molecular biomarkers of inflammatory and oxidative stress. This study provides evidence that the dietary PA/OA ratio impacts diabetes risk in women.
Disruptions of ovarian function in women are associated with increased risk of metabolic disease due to dysregulation of peripheral glucose homeostasis in skeletal muscle. Our previous evidence suggests that alterations in skeletal muscle lipid metabolism coupled with altered mitochondrial function may also develop. The objective of this study was to use an integrative metabolic approach to identify potential areas of dysfunction that develop in skeletal muscle from ovariectomized (OVX) female mice compared with age-matched ovary-intact adult female mice (sham). The OVX mice exhibited significant increases in body weight, visceral, and inguinal fat mass compared with sham mice. OVX mice also had significant increases in skeletal muscle intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) compared with the sham animals, which corresponded to significant increases in the protein content of the fatty acid transporters CD36/FAT and FABPpm. A targeted metabolic profiling approach identified significantly lower levels of specific acyl carnitine species and various amino acids in skeletal muscle from OVX mice compared with the sham animals, suggesting a potential dysfunction in lipid and amino acid metabolism, respectively. Basal and maximal mitochondrial oxygen consumption rates were significantly impaired in skeletal muscle fibers from OVX mice compared with sham animals. Collectively, these data indicate that loss of ovarian function results in increased IMCL storage that is coupled with alterations in mitochondrial function and changes in the skeletal muscle metabolic profile.
Intramuscular accumulation of triacylglycerol, in the form of lipid droplets (LD), has gained widespread attention as a hallmark of metabolic disease and insulin resistance. Paradoxically, LDs also amass in muscles of highly trained endurance athletes who are exquisitely insulin sensitive. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that mediate the expansion and appropriate metabolic control of LDs in the context of habitual physical activity could lead to new therapeutic opportunities. Herein, we show that acute exercise elicits robust upregulation of a broad program of genes involved in regulating LD assembly, morphology, localization, and mobilization. Prominent among these was perilipin-5, a scaffolding protein that affects the spatial and metabolic interactions between LD and their surrounding mitochondrial reticulum. Studies in transgenic mice and primary human skeletal myocytes established a key role for the exercise-responsive transcriptional coactivator PGC-1? in coordinating intramuscular LD programming with mitochondrial remodeling. Moreover, translational studies comparing physically active versus inactive humans identified a remarkably strong association between expression of intramuscular LD genes and enhanced insulin action in exercise-trained subjects. These results reveal an intimate molecular connection between intramuscular LD biology and mitochondrial metabolism that could prove relevant to the etiology and treatment of insulin resistance and other disorders of lipid imbalance.
The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) Research Workshop, "Using Nutrigenomics and Metabolomics in Clinical Nutrition Research," was held on January 21, 2012, in Orlando, Florida. The conference brought together experts in human nutrition who use nutrigenomic and metabolomic methods to better understand metabolic individuality and nutrition effects on health. We are beginning to understand how genetic variation and epigenetic events alter requirements for and responses to foods in our diet (the field of nutrigenetics/nutrigenomics and epigenetics). At the same time, methods for profiling almost all of the products of metabolism in plasma, urine, and tissues (metabolomics) are being refined. The relationships between diet and nutrigenomic-metabolomic profiles, as well as between these profiles and health, are being elucidated, and this will dramatically alter clinical practice in nutrition.
Published values regarding the sensitivity (IC(50)) of CPT-I (carnitine palmitoyltransferase I) to M-CoA (malonyl-CoA) inhibition in isolated mitochondria are inconsistent with predicted in vivo rates of fatty acid oxidation. Therefore we have re-examined M-CoA inhibition kinetics under various P-CoA (palmitoyl-CoA) concentrations in both isolated mitochondria and PMFs (permeabilized muscle fibres). PMFs have an 18-fold higher IC(50) (0.61 compared with 0.034 ?M) in the presence of 25 ?M P-CoA and a 13-fold higher IC(50) (6.3 compared with 0.49 ?M) in the presence of 150 ?M P-CoA compared with isolated mitochondria. M-CoA inhibition kinetics determined in PMFs predicts that CPT-I activity is inhibited by 33% in resting muscle compared with >95% in isolated mitochondria. Additionally, the ability of M-CoA to inhibit CPT-I appears to be dependent on P-CoA concentration, as the relative inhibitory capacity of M-CoA is decreased with increasing P-CoA concentrations. Altogether, the use of PMFs appears to provide an M-CoA IC(50) that better reflects the predicted in vivo rates of fatty acid oxidation. These findings also demonstrate that the ratio of [P-CoA]/[M-CoA] is critical for regulating CPT-I activity and may partially rectify the in vivo disconnect between M-CoA content and CPT-I flux within the context of exercise and Type 2 diabetes.
The concept of "metabolic inflexibility" was first introduced to describe the failure of insulin-resistant human subjects to appropriately adjust mitochondrial fuel selection in response to nutritional cues. This phenomenon has since gained increasing recognition as a core component of the metabolic syndrome, but the underlying mechanisms have remained elusive. Here, we identify an essential role for the mitochondrial matrix enzyme, carnitine acetyltransferase (CrAT), in regulating substrate switching and glucose tolerance. By converting acetyl-CoA to its membrane permeant acetylcarnitine ester, CrAT regulates mitochondrial and intracellular carbon trafficking. Studies in muscle-specific Crat knockout mice, primary human skeletal myocytes, and human subjects undergoing L-carnitine supplementation support a model wherein CrAT combats nutrient stress, promotes metabolic flexibility, and enhances insulin action by permitting mitochondrial efflux of excess acetyl moieties that otherwise inhibit key regulatory enzymes such as pyruvate dehydrogenase. These findings offer therapeutically relevant insights into the molecular basis of metabolic inflexibility.
The interplay between mitochondrial energetics, lipid balance, and muscle insulin sensitivity has remained a topic of intense interest and debate for decades. One popular view suggests that increased oxidative capacity benefits metabolic wellness, based on the premise that it is healthier to burn fat than glucose. Attempts to test this hypothesis using genetically modified mouse models have produced contradictory results and instead link muscle insulin resistance to excessive fat oxidation, acylcarnitine production, and increased mitochondrial H(2)O(2)-emitting potential. Here, we consider emerging evidence that insulin action in muscle is driven principally by mitochondrial load and redox signaling rather than oxidative capacity.
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