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Mol Metab. 2015 May 1;4(7):507-18. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2015.04.003. eCollection 2015 Jul.

A major role of insulin in promoting obesity-associated adipose tissue inflammation.

Author information

1
Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.
2
Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA ; Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Adipose tissue (AT) inflammation is associated with systemic insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia in obese rodents and humans. A longstanding concept is that hyperinsulinemia may promote systemic insulin resistance through downregulation of its receptor on target tissues. Here we tested the novel hypothesis that insulin also impairs systemic insulin sensitivity by specifically enhancing adipose inflammation.

METHODS:

Circulating insulin levels were reduced by about 50% in diet-induced and genetically obese mice by treatments with diazoxide or streptozotocin, respectively. We then examined AT crown-like structures, macrophage markers and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in AT. AT lipogenesis and systemic insulin sensitivity was also monitored. Conversely, insulin was infused into lean mice to determine its affects on the above parameters.

RESULTS:

Lowering circulating insulin levels in obese mice by streptozotocin treatment decreased macrophage content in AT, enhancing insulin stimulated Akt phosphorylation and de novo lipogenesis (DNL). Moreover, responsiveness of blood glucose levels to injected insulin was improved by streptozotocin and diazoxide treatments of obese mice without changes in body weight. Remarkably, even in lean mice, infusion of insulin under constant euglycemic conditions stimulated expression of cytokines in AT. Consistent with these findings, insulin treatment of 3T3-L1 adipocytes caused a 10-fold increase in CCL2 mRNA levels within 6 h, which was blocked by the ERK inhibitor PD98059.

CONCLUSION:

Taken together, these results indicate that obesity-associated hyperinsulinemia unexpectedly drives AT inflammation in obese mice, which in turn contributes to factors that suppress insulin-stimulated adipocyte DNL and systemic insulin sensitivity.

KEYWORDS:

Adipose tissue; Hyperinsulinemia; Inflammation; Insulin resistance; Obesity

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