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Diabetes Obesity Studies

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HLA-B*07, HLA-DRB1*07, HLA-DRB1*12, and HLA-C*03:02 Strongly Associate With BMI: Data From 1.3 Million Healthy Chinese Adults


Strong associations between HLA alleles and infectious and autoimmune diseases are well established. Although obesity is also associated with these diseases, the relationship between HLA and obesity has not been systematically investigated in a large cohort. In the current study, we analyzed the association of HLA alleles with BMI using data from 1.3 million healthy adult donors from the Chinese Marrow Donor Program (CMDP). We found 23 HLA alleles, including 12 low-resolution and 11 high-resolution alleles, were significantly associated with BMI after correction for multiple testing. Alleles associated with high BMI were enriched in haplotypes that were common in both Chinese and European populations, whereas the alleles associated with low BMI were enriched in haplotypes common only in Asians. Alleles B*07, DRB1*07, DRB1*12, and C*03:02 provided the strongest associations with BMI (P = 6.89 x 10–10, 1.32 x 10–9, 1.52 x 10–9, and 4.45 x 10–8, respectively), where B*07 and DRB1*07 also had evidence for sex-specific effects (Pheterogeneity = 0.0067 and 0.00058, respectively). These results, which identify associations between alleles of HLA-B, DRB1, and C with BMI in Chinese young adults, implicate a novel biological connection between HLA alleles and obesity.

Low Neonatal Plasma n-6/n-3 PUFA Ratios Regulate Offspring Adipogenic Potential and Condition Adult Obesity Resistance


Adipose tissue expansion progresses rapidly during postnatal life, influenced by both prenatal maternal factors and postnatal developmental cues. The ratio of omega-6 (n-6) relative to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is believed to regulate perinatal adipogenesis, but the cellular mechanisms and long-term effects are not well understood. We lowered the fetal and postnatal n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio exposure in wild-type offspring under standard maternal dietary fat amounts to test the effects of low n-6/n-3 ratios on offspring adipogenesis and adipogenic potential. Relative to wild-type pups receiving high perinatal n-6/n-3 ratios, subcutaneous adipose tissue in 14-day-old wild-type pups receiving low n-6/n-3 ratios had more adipocytes that were smaller in size; decreased Ppar2, Fabp4, and Plin1; several lipid metabolism mRNAs; coincident hypermethylation of the PPAR2 proximal promoter; and elevated circulating adiponectin. As adults, offspring that received low perinatal n-6/n-3 ratios were diet-induced obesity (DIO) resistant and had a lower positive energy balance and energy intake, greater lipid fuel preference and non–resting energy expenditure, one-half the body fat, and better glucose clearance. Together, the findings support a model in which low early-life n-6/n-3 ratios remodel adipose morphology to increase circulating adiponectin, resulting in a persistent adult phenotype with improved metabolic flexibility that prevents DIO.

Modest Decreases in Endogenous All-trans-Retinoic Acid Produced by a Mouse Rdh10 Heterozygote Provoke Major Abnormalities in Adipogenesis and Lipid Metabolism


Pharmacological dosing of all-trans-retinoic acid (atRA) controls adiposity in rodents by inhibiting adipogenesis and inducing fatty acid oxidation. Retinol dehydrogenases (Rdh) catalyze the first reaction that activates retinol into atRA. This study examined postnatal contributions of Rdh10 to atRA biosynthesis and physiological functions of endogenous atRA. Embryonic fibroblasts from Rdh10 heterozygote hypomorphs or with a total Rdh10 knockout exhibit decreased atRA biosynthesis and escalated adipogenesis. atRA or a retinoic acid receptor (RAR) pan-agonist reversed the phenotype. Eliminating one Rdh10 copy in vivo (Rdh10+/–) yielded a modest decrease (≤25%) in the atRA concentration of liver and adipose but increased adiposity in male and female mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD); increased liver steatosis, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance in males fed an HFD; and activated bone marrow adipocyte formation in females, regardless of dietary fat. Chronic dosing with low-dose atRA corrected the metabolic defects. These data resolve physiological actions of endogenous atRA, reveal sex-specific effects of atRA in vivo, and establish the importance of Rdh10 to metabolic control by atRA. The consequences of a modest decrease in tissue atRA suggest that impaired retinol activation may contribute to diabesity, and low-dose atRA therapy may ameliorate adiposity and its sequelae of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.

Sucrose Nonfermenting-Related Kinase Regulates Both Adipose Inflammation and Energy Homeostasis in Mice and Humans


Sucrose nonfermenting-related kinase (SNRK) is a member of the AMPK-related kinase family, and its physiological role in adipose energy homeostasis and inflammation remains unknown. We previously reported that SNRK is ubiquitously and abundantly expressed in both white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT), but SNRK expression diminishes in adipose tissue in obesity. In this study we report novel experimental findings from both animal models and human genetics. SNRK is essential for survival; SNRK globally deficient pups die within 24 h after birth. Heterozygous mice are characterized by inflamed WAT and less BAT. Adipocyte-specific ablation of SNRK causes inflammation in WAT, ectopic lipid deposition in liver and muscle, and impaired adaptive thermogenesis in BAT. These metabolic disorders subsequently lead to decreased energy expenditure, higher body weight, and insulin resistance. We further confirm the significant association of common variants of the SNRK gene with obesity risk in humans. Through applying a phosphoproteomic approach, we identified eukaryotic elongation factor 1 and histone deacetylase 1/2 as potential SNRK substrates. Taking these data together, we conclude that SNRK represses WAT inflammation and is essential to maintain BAT thermogenesis, making it a novel therapeutic target for treating obesity and associated metabolic disorders.

Exosomes From Adipose-Derived Stem Cells Attenuate Adipose Inflammation and Obesity Through Polarizing M2 Macrophages and Beiging in White Adipose Tissue


Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) play critical roles in controlling obesity-associated inflammation and metabolic disorders. Exosomes from ADSCs exert protective effects in several diseases, but their roles in obesity and related pathological conditions remain unclear. In this study, we showed that treatment of obese mice with ADSC-derived exosomes facilitated their metabolic homeostasis, including improved insulin sensitivity (27.8% improvement), reduced obesity, and alleviated hepatic steatosis. ADSC-derived exosomes drove alternatively activated M2 macrophage polarization, inflammation reduction, and beiging in white adipose tissue (WAT) of diet-induced obese mice. Mechanistically, exosomes from ADSCs transferred into macrophages to induce anti-inflammatory M2 phenotypes through the transactivation of arginase-1 by exosome-carried active STAT3. Moreover, M2 macrophages induced by ADSC-derived exosomes not only expressed high levels of tyrosine hydroxylase responsible for catecholamine release, but also promoted ADSC proliferation and lactate production, thereby favoring WAT beiging and homeostasis in response to high-fat challenge. These findings delineate a novel exosome-mediated mechanism for ADSC–macrophage cross talk that facilitates immune and metabolic homeostasis in WAT, thus providing potential therapy for obesity and diabetes.

Longitudinal Analysis of Genetic Susceptibility and BMI Throughout Adult Life


Little is known about the genetic influence on BMI trajectory throughout adulthood. We created a genetic risk score (GRS) comprising 97 adult BMI-associated variants among 9,971 women and 6,405 men of European ancestry. Serial measures of BMI were assessed from 18 (women) or 21 (men) years to 85 years of age. We also examined BMI change in early (from 18 or 21 to 45 years of age), middle (from 45 to 65 years of age), and late adulthood (from 65 to 80 years of age). GRS was positively associated with BMI across all ages, with stronger associations in women than in men. The associations increased from early to middle adulthood, peaked at 45 years of age in men and at 60 years of age in women (0.91 and 1.35 kg/m2 per 10-allele increment, respectively) and subsequently declined in late adulthood. For women, each 10-allele increment in the GRS was associated with an average BMI gain of 0.54 kg/m2 in early adulthood, whereas no statistically significant association was found for BMI change in middle or late adulthood or for BMI change in any life period in men. Our findings indicate that genetic predisposition exerts a persistent effect on adiposity throughout adult life and increases early adulthood weight gain in women.