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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Aug 1;315(2):E180-E195. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00311.2017. Epub 2018 Feb 27.

Nrf2 deletion from adipocytes, but not hepatocytes, potentiates systemic metabolic dysfunction after long-term high-fat diet-induced obesity in mice.

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Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Fondazione Ri.MED, Palermo , Italy.
Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a canonical regulator of cytoprotective gene expression, but evidence of its cross talk with other pathways, including metabolic ones, is ever increasing. Pharmacologic or systemic genetic activation of the Nrf2 pathway partially protects from obesity in mice and ameliorates fasting hyperglycemia in mice and humans. However, systemic Nrf2 deletion also protects from diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice. To further investigate the effect of the disruption of Nrf2 on obesity in a tissue-specific manner, we focused on adipocytes and hepatocytes with targeted deletion of Nrf2. To this end, mice with cell-specific deletion of Nrf2 in adipocytes (ANKO) or hepatocytes (HeNKO) were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 6 mo and showed similar increases in body weight and body fat content. ANKO mice showed a partially deteriorated glucose tolerance, higher fasting glucose levels, and higher levels of cholesterol and nonesterified fatty acids compared with their Control counterparts. The HeNKO mice, though, had lower insulin levels and trended toward improved insulin sensitivity without having any difference in liver triglyceride accumulation. This study compared for the first time two conditional Nrf2 knockout models in adipocytes and in hepatocytes during HFD-induced obesity. None of these models could completely recapitulate the unexpected protection against obesity observed in the whole body Nrf2 knockout mice, but this study points out the differential roles that Nrf2 may play, beyond cytoprotection, in different target tissues and rather suggests systemic activation of the Nrf2 pathway as an effective means of prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.


Keap1; Nrf2; diabetes; fat; liver

[Available on 2019-08-01]

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