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LE Magazine June 2004

Leptin stimulates fatty-acid oxidation by activating AMP-activated protein kinase.
Leptin is a hormone secreted by adipocytes that plays a pivotal role in regulating food intake, energy expenditure and neuroendocrine function. Leptin stimulates the oxidation of fatty acids and the uptake of glucose, and prevents the accumulation of lipids in nonadipose tissues, which can lead to functional impairments known as "lipotoxicity". The signalling pathways that mediate the metabolic effects of leptin remain undefined. The 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) potently stimulates fatty-acid oxidation in muscle by inhibiting the activity of acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase (ACC). AMPK is a heterotrimeric enzyme that is conserved from yeast to humans and functions as a 'fuel gauge' to monitor the status of cellular energy. Here we show that leptin selectively stimulates phosphorylation and activation of the alpha2 catalytic subunit of AMPK (alpha2 AMPK) in skeletal muscle, thus establishing a previously unknown signalling pathway for leptin. Early activation of AMPK occurs by leptin acting directly on muscle, whereas later activation depends on leptin functioning through the hypothalamic-sympathetic nervous system axis. In parallel with its activation of AMPK, leptin suppresses the activity of ACC, thereby stimulating the oxidation of fatty acids in muscle. Blocking AMPK activation inhibits the phosphorylation of ACC stimulated by leptin. Our data identify AMPK as a principal mediator of the effects of leptin on fatty-acid metabolism in muscle.

Nature. 2002 Jan 17;415(6869):339-43

Can correction of sub-optimal coenzyme Q status improve beta-cell function in type II diabetics?
A stimulus to mitochondrial respiratory activity is a crucial component of the signal transduction mechanism whereby increased plasma glucose evokes insulin secretion by beta-cells. Efficient function of the glycerol-3-phosphate shuttle is important in this regard, and the rate-limiting enzyme in this shuttle--the mitochondrial glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PD)--is underexpressed in the beta cells of human type II diabetics as well of rodents that are models for this disorder. Suboptimal tissue levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ) could be expected to further impair G3PD activity. Clinical reports from Japan suggest that supplemental CoQ may often improve beta-cell function and glycemic control in type II diabetics. Thus, it is proposed that correction of suboptimal CoQ status, by aiding the efficiency of G3PD and of respiratory chain function, will improve the glucose-stimulated insulin secretion of diabetic beta-cells.

Med Hypotheses. 1999 May;52(5):397-400

Beneficial effects of antioxidants in diabetes: possible protection of pancreatic beta-cells against glucose toxicity.
Oxidative stress is produced under diabetic conditions and possibly causes various forms of tissue damage in patients with diabetes. The aim of this study was to examine the involvement of oxidative stress in the progression of pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction in type 2 diabetes and to evaluate the potential usefulness of antioxidants in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. We used diabetic C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice, in whom antioxidant treatment (N-acetyl-L-cysteine [NAC], vitamins C plus E, or both) was started at 6 weeks of age; its effects were evaluated at 10 and 16 weeks of age. According to an intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test, the treatment with NAC retained glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and moderately decreased blood glucose levels. Vitamins C and E were not effective when used alone but slightly effective when used in combination with NAC. No effect on insulin secretion was observed when the same set of antioxidants was given to nondiabetic control mice. Histologic analyses of the pancreases revealed that the beta-cell mass was significantly larger in the diabetic mice treated with the antioxidants than in the untreated mice. As a possible cause, the antioxidant treatment suppressed apoptosis in beta-cells without changing the rate of beta-cell proliferation, supporting the hypothesis that in chronic hyperglycemia, apoptosis induced by oxidative stress causes reduction of beta-cell mass. The antioxidant treatment also preserved the amounts of insulin content and insulin mRNA, making the extent of insulin degranulation less evident. Furthermore, expression of pancreatic and duodenal homeobox factor-1 (PDX-1), a beta-cell-specific transcription factor, was more clearly visible in the nuclei of islet cells after the antioxidant treatment. In conclusion, our observations indicate that antioxidant treatment can exert beneficial effects in diabetes, with preservation of in vivo beta-cell function. This finding suggests a potential usefulness of antioxidants for treating diabetes and provides further support for the implication of oxidative stress in beta-cell dysfunction in diabetes.

Diabetes. 1999 Dec;48(12):2398-406

A prospective study of exercise and incidence of diabetes among US male physicians.
OBJECTIVE--To examine prospectively the association between regular exercise and the subsequent development of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). DESIGN--Prospective cohort study including 5 years of follow-up. PARTICIPANTS--21,271 US male physicians participating in the Physicians' Health Study, aged 40 to 84 years and free of diagnosed diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer at baseline. Morbidity follow-up was 99.7% complete. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Incidence of NIDDM. RESULTS--At baseline, information was obtained about frequency of vigorous exercise and other risk indicators. During 105,141 person-years of follow-up, 285 new cases of NIDDM were reported. The age-adjusted incidence of NIDDM ranged from 369 cases per 100,000 person-years in men who engaged in vigorous exercise less than once weekly to 214 cases per 100,000 person-years in those exercising at least five times per week (P, trend, less than .001). Men who exercised at least once per week had an age-adjusted relative risk (RR) of NIDDM of 0.64 (95% Cl, 0.51 to 0.82; P = .0003) compared with those who exercised less frequently. The age-adjusted RR of NIDDM decreased with increasing frequency of exercise: 0.77 for once weekly, 0.62 for two to four times per week, and 0.58 for five or more times per week (P, trend, .0002). A significant reduction in risk of NIDDM persisted after adjustment for both age and body-mass index: RR, 0.71 (95% Cl, 0.56 to 0.91; P = .006) for at least once per week compared with less than once weekly, and P, trend, .009, for increasing frequency of exercise. Further control for smoking, hypertension, and other coronary risk factors did not materially alter these associations. The inverse relation of exercise to risk of NIDDM was particularly pronounced among overweight men. CONCLUSIONS--Exercise appears to reduce the development of NIDDM even after adjusting for body-mass index. Increased physical activity may be a promising approach to the primary prevention of NIDDM.

JAMA. 1992 Jul 1;268(1):63-7

Physical activity and incidence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women.
The potential role of physical activity in the primary prevention of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is largely unknown. We examined the association between regular vigorous exercise and the subsequent incidence of NIDDM in a prospective cohort of 87,253 US women aged 34-59 years and free of diagnosed diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in 1980. During 8 years of follow-up, we confirmed 1303 cases of NIDDM. Women who engaged in vigorous exercise at least once per week had an age-adjusted relative risk (RR) of NIDDM of 0.67 (p less than 0.0001) compared with women who did not exercise weekly. After adjustment for body-mass index, the reduction in risk was attenuated but remained statistically significant (RR = 0.84, p = 0.005). When analysis was restricted to the first 2 years after ascertainment of physical activity level and to symptomatic NIDDM as the outcome, age-adjusted RR of those who exercised was 0.5, and age and body-mass index adjusted RR was 0.69. Among women who exercised at least once per week, there was no clear dose-response gradient according to frequency of exercise. Family history of diabetes did not modify the effect of exercise, and risk reduction with exercise was evident among both obese and nonobese women. Multivariate adjustments for age, body-mass index, family history of diabetes, and other variables did not alter the reduced risk found with exercise. Our results indicate that physical activity may be a promising approach to the primary prevention of NIDDM.

Lancet. 1991 Sep 28;338(8770):774-8

Relationship between acute insulin response and vitamin K intake in healthy young male volunteers.
To evaluate the effects of vitamin K (VK) on pancreatic function, especially on acute insulin response, 25 healthy young male volunteers were given an oral load of 75 g of glucose, and their mean daily VK intake was estimated by a one-week food check list. After excluding low (<20) and high (> or =25) body mass index (BMI) subjects, the remaining 16 participants were divided into three semi-equal groups according to VK intake. Blood VK status of the low VK intake group tended to be poorer than that of the high intake group (median of 5 samples: prothrombin time; 12.5 vs 12.2s and protein-induced VK absence-factor-II; 23 vs 15 mAU/ml), but fasting plasma glucose status was not markedly different between both groups: [plasma glucose (PG); 87 vs 86 mg/dl, immunoreactive insulin (IRI); 6.7 vs 5.3 microU/ml, HbA1c; 4.8 vs 4.9%]. However, at 30 min after glucose loading, PG of the low VK intake group tended to be higher than those of the high intake group (160 vs 145 mg/dl) and IRI was lower (36.1 vs 52.3 microU/ml). Insulinogenic index (incremental IRI/incremental PG, 0-30 min) of the low VK intake group was significantly lower than that of the high intake group (0.4 vs 0.9). These results suggested that VK may play an important role on the acute insulin response in glucose tolerance.

Diabetes Nutr Metab. 1999 Feb;12(1):37-41

Salmon calcitonin - a potent inhibitor of food intake in states of impaired leptin signalling in laboratory rodents.
To compare the anorectic effectiveness of leptin and the amylin analogue salmon calcitonin (sCT), rodents were treated on 1 day with subcutaneous injections. In chow-fed C57Bl/6J mice, leptin and sCT reduced energy intake and acted additively. After C57Bl/6J mice had become leptin-resistant on being fed chocolate as a palatable high-caloric supplement to chow, their sCT-induced decrease in energy intake was more pronounced than in chow-fed mice with differential changes in the intake of chocolate (strong reduction) and chow (slight increase). Dose-response relationships for sCT-induced reductions in energy intake were analysed in chow-fed C57Bl/6J mice and two obese strains, ob/ob mice and melanocortin-4 receptor knockout (MC4-r-KO) mice, as well as in wild-type and fatty (fa/fa) rats. Compared to C57Bl/6J mice, reduction in food intake induced by sCT was attenuated in MC4-r-KO mice, and nearly absent in ob/ob mice, over the dose range investigated. Compared to C57Bl/6J mice, wild-type rats responded more sensitively to sCT and its efficiency was only slightly reduced in fatty (fa/fa) rats. Thus, while genetically induced failures of leptin signalling reduce the action of sCT, it effectively inhibits the intake of a palatable, high fat-high sugar diet even in states of diet-induced obesity with functional leptin resistance.

J Physiol. 2002 Jun 15;541(Pt 3):1041-8

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