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Int J Obes (Lond). 2020 Jan 7. doi: 10.1038/s41366-019-0512-z. [Epub ahead of print]

Reversal of obesity and liver steatosis in mice via inhibition of aryl hydrocarbon receptor and altered gene expression of CYP1B1, PPARα, SCD1, and osteopontin.

Author information

1
Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH, 03756, USA.
2
Tufts University School of Medicine, 711 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 02111, USA.
3
Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH, 03756, USA. Craig.R.Tomlinson@Dartmouth.edu.
4
Department of Molecular & Systems Biology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH, 03756, USA. Craig.R.Tomlinson@Dartmouth.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

Obesity is a global epidemic and the underlying basis for numerous comorbidities. We report that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) plays a key role in the metabolism of obesity. The AHR is a promiscuous, ligand-activated nuclear receptor primarily known for regulating genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism and T cell polarization. The aims of the work reported here were to understand the underlying mechanism of AHR-based obesity and to determine whether inhibition of AHR activity would reverse obesity.

METHODS:

Mice were fed control (low fat) and Western (high fat) diets with and without the AHR antagonist alpha-naphthoflavone (aNF). Gene expression of identified AHR-regulated genes from liver and adipose tissue was characterized. To determine the role of the AHR in obesity reversal, selected mice in control and Western diet regimens were switched at midpoint to the respective control and Western diets containing aNF, and the identified AHR-regulated genes characterized.

RESULTS:

AHR inhibition prevented obesity in mice on a 40-week diet regimen. The likely AHR-regulated and cross-regulated downstream effectors of AHR-based obesity were shown to be CYP1B1, PPARα-target genes, SCD1, and SPP1 (osteopontin). Western diet caused an increase of mRNA and protein expression of the Cyp1b1, Scd1, and Spp1, and PPARα-target genes in the liver, and inhibition of the AHR maintained expression of these genes near control levels. The body weight of obese mice on Western diet switched to Western diet containing aNF decreased to that of mice on control diet concurrently with a reduction in the expression of liver CYP1B1, PPARα-target genes, SCD1, and SPP1. AHR inhibition prevented hypertrophy and hyperplasia in visceral adipose tissue and limited expression levels of CYP1B1 and SPP1 to that of mice on control diet.

CONCLUSIONS:

AHR inhibition prevents and reverses obesity by likely reducing liver expression of the Cyp1b1, Scd1, Spp1, and PPARα-target genes; and the AHR is a potentially potent therapeutic target for the treatment and prevention of obesity and linked diseases.

PMID:
31911663
DOI:
10.1038/s41366-019-0512-z

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