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Nat Med. 2011 Jul 31;17(8):961-7. doi: 10.1038/nm.2378.

Inhibition of Notch signaling ameliorates insulin resistance in a FoxO1-dependent manner.

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Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.


Transcription factor FoxO1 promotes hepatic glucose production. Genetic inhibition of FoxO1 function prevents diabetes in experimental animal models, providing impetus to identify pharmacological approaches to modulate this function. Altered Notch signaling is evident in tumorigenesis, and Notch antagonists are in clinical testing for application in cancer. Here we report that FoxO1 and Notch coordinately regulate hepatic glucose metabolism. Combined haploinsufficiency of FoxO1 and Notch1 markedly raises insulin sensitivity in diet-induced insulin resistance, as does liver-specific knockout of the Notch transcriptional effector Rbp-Jκ. Conversely, Notch1 gain-of-function promotes insulin resistance in a FoxO1-dependent manner and induces glucose-6-phosphatase expression. Pharmacological blockade of Notch signaling with γ-secretase inhibitors raises insulin sensitivity after in vivo administration in lean mice and in obese, insulin-resistant mice. The data identify a heretofore unknown metabolic function of Notch and suggest that Notch inhibition is beneficial in diabetes treatment, in part by helping to offset excessive FoxO1-driven hepatic glucose production.

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