Maternal hyperglycemia during pregnancy is associated with excess fetal growth and adverse perinatal and developmental outcomes. Placental epigenetic maladaptation may underlie these associations. We performed an epigenome-wide association study (>850,000 CpG sites) of term placentas and prenatal maternal glycemic response 2-h post oral glucose challenge at 24–30 weeks of gestation among 448 mother-infant pairs. Maternal 2-h glycemia postload was strongly associated with lower DNA methylation of four CpG sites (false discovery rate [FDR] q <0.05) within the phosphodiesterase 4B gene (PDE4B). Additionally, three other individual CpG sites were differentially methylated relative to maternal glucose response within the TNFRSF1B, LDLR, and BLM genes (FDR q <0.05). DNA methylation correlated with expression of its respective genes in placental tissue at three out of four independent identified loci: PDE4B (r = 0.31, P < 0.01), TNFRSF1B (r = –0.24, P = 0.013), and LDLR (r = 0.32, P < 0.001). In an independent replication cohort (N = 65–108 samples), results were consistent in direction but not significantly replicated among tested CpG sites in PDE4B and TNFRSF1B. Our study provides evidence that maternal glycemic response during pregnancy is associated with placental DNA methylation of key inflammatory genes whose expression levels are partially under epigenetic control.
Genome-Wide Association Study of Serum Fructosamine and Glycated Albumin in Adults Without Diagnosed Diabetes: Results From the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study
Fructosamine and glycated albumin are potentially useful alternatives to hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) as diabetes biomarkers. The genetic determinants of fructosamine and glycated albumin, however, are unknown. We performed genome-wide association studies of fructosamine and glycated albumin among 2,104 black and 7,647 white participants without diabetes in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study and replicated findings in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Among whites, rs34459162, a novel missense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in RCN3, was associated with fructosamine (P = 5.3 x 10–9) and rs1260236, a known diabetes-related missense mutation in GCKR, was associated with percent glycated albumin (P = 5.9 x 10–9) and replicated in CARDIA. We also found two novel associations among blacks: an intergenic SNP, rs2438321, associated with fructosamine (P = 6.2 x 10–9), and an intronic variant in PRKCA, rs59443763, associated with percent glycated albumin (P = 4.1 x 10–9), but these results did not replicate. Few established fasting glucose or HbA1c SNPs were also associated with fructosamine or glycated albumin. Overall, we found genetic variants associated with the glycemic information captured by fructosamine and glycated albumin as well as with their nonglycemic component. This highlights the importance of examining the genetics of hyperglycemia biomarkers to understand the information they capture, including potential glucose-independent factors.
Insulin-induced hypoglycemia in diabetes is associated with impaired glucagon secretion. In this study, we tested whether stimulation of GPR119, a G-protein–coupled receptor expressed in pancreatic islet as well as enteroendocrine cells and previously shown to stimulate insulin and incretin secretion, might enhance glucagon secretion during hypoglycemia. In the study, GPR119 agonists were applied to isolated islets or perfused pancreata to assess insulin and glucagon secretion during hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic conditions. Insulin infusion hypoglycemic clamps were performed with or without GPR119 agonist pretreatment to assess glucagon counterregulation in healthy and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats, including those exposed to recurrent bouts of insulin-induced hypoglycemia that leads to suppression of hypoglycemia-induced glucagon release. Hypoglycemic clamp studies were also conducted in GPR119 knockout (KO) mice to evaluate whether the pharmacological stimulatory actions of GPR119 agonists on glucagon secretion during hypoglycemia were an on-target effect. The results revealed that GPR119 agonist-treated pancreata or cultured islets had increased glucagon secretion during low glucose perfusion. In vivo, GPR119 agonists also significantly increased glucagon secretion during hypoglycemia in healthy and STZ-diabetic rats, a response that was absent in GPR119 KO mice. In addition, impaired glucagon counterregulatory responses were restored by a GPR119 agonist in STZ-diabetic rats that were exposed to antecedent bouts of hypoglycemia. Thus, GPR119 agonists have the ability to pharmacologically augment glucagon secretion, specifically in response to hypoglycemia in diabetic rodents. Whether this effect might serve to diminish the occurrence and severity of iatrogenic hypoglycemia during intensive insulin therapy in patients with diabetes remains to be established.
Identification of sequence variants robustly associated with predisposition to diabetic kidney disease (DKD) has the potential to provide insights into the pathophysiological mechanisms responsible. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of DKD in type 2 diabetes (T2D) using eight complementary dichotomous and quantitative DKD phenotypes: the principal dichotomous analysis involved 5,717 T2D subjects, 3,345 with DKD. Promising association signals were evaluated in up to 26,827 subjects with T2D (12,710 with DKD). A combined T1D+T2D GWAS was performed using complementary data available for subjects with T1D, which, with replication samples, involved up to 40,340 subjects with diabetes (18,582 with DKD). Analysis of specific DKD phenotypes identified a novel signal near GABRR1 (rs9942471, P = 4.5 x 10–8) associated with microalbuminuria in European T2D case subjects. However, no replication of this signal was observed in Asian subjects with T2D or in the equivalent T1D analysis. There was only limited support, in this substantially enlarged analysis, for association at previously reported DKD signals, except for those at UMOD and PRKAG2, both associated with estimated glomerular filtration rate. We conclude that, despite challenges in addressing phenotypic heterogeneity, access to increased sample sizes will continue to provide more robust inference regarding risk variant discovery for DKD.
Genetic Variants in CPA6 and PRPF31 Are Associated With Variation in Response to Metformin in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes
Metformin is the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes (T2D). Although widely prescribed, the glucose-lowering mechanism for metformin is incompletely understood. Here, we used a genome-wide association approach in a diverse group of individuals with T2D from the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) clinical trial to identify common and rare variants associated with HbA1c response to metformin treatment and followed up these findings in four replication cohorts. Common variants in PRPF31 and CPA6 were associated with worse and better metformin response, respectively (P < 5 x 10–6), and meta-analysis in independent cohorts displayed similar associations with metformin response (P = 1.2 x 10–8 and P = 0.005, respectively). Previous studies have shown that PRPF31(+/–) knockout mice have increased total body fat (P = 1.78 x 10–6) and increased fasted circulating glucose (P = 5.73 x 10–6). Furthermore, rare variants in STAT3 associated with worse metformin response (q <0.1). STAT3 is a ubiquitously expressed pleiotropic transcriptional activator that participates in the regulation of metabolism and feeding behavior. Here, we provide novel evidence for associations of common and rare variants in PRPF31, CPA6, and STAT3 with metformin response that may provide insight into mechanisms important for metformin efficacy in T2D.
mtDNA Haplogroup N9a Increases the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes by Altering Mitochondrial Function and Intracellular Mitochondrial Signals
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups have been associated with the incidence of type 2 diabetes (T2D); however, their underlying role in T2D remains poorly elucidated. Here, we report that mtDNA haplogroup N9a was associated with an increased risk of T2D occurrence in Southern China (odds ratio 1.999 [95% CI 1.229–3.251], P = 0.005). By using transmitochondrial technology, we demonstrated that the activity of respiratory chain complexes was lower in the case of mtDNA haplogroup N9a (N9a1 and N9a10a) than in three non-N9a haplogroups (D4j, G3a2, and Y1) and that this could lead to alterations in mitochondrial function and mitochondrial redox status. Transcriptome analysis revealed that OXPHOS function and metabolic regulation differed markedly between N9a and non-N9a cybrids. Furthermore, in N9a cybrids, insulin-stimulated glucose uptake might be inhibited at least partially through enhanced stimulation of ERK1/2 phosphorylation and subsequent TLR4 activation, which was found to be mediated by the elevated redox status in N9a cybrids. Although it remains unclear whether other signaling pathways (e.g., Wnt pathway) contribute to the T2D susceptibility of haplogroup N9a, our data indicate that in the case of mtDNA haplogroup N9a, T2D is affected, at least partially through ERK1/2 overstimulation and subsequent TLR4 activation.
Very recently one of the largest type 1 diabetes prevention trials using daily administration of oral insulin or placebo was completed. After 9 years of study enrollment and follow-up, the randomized controlled trial failed to delay the onset of clinical type 1 diabetes, which was the primary end point. The unfortunate outcome follows the previous large-scale trial, the Diabetes Prevention Trial–Type 1 (DPT-1), which again failed to delay diabetes onset with oral insulin or low-dose subcutaneous insulin injections in a randomized controlled trial with relatives at risk for type 1 diabetes. These sobering results raise the important question, "Where does the type 1 diabetes prevention field move next?" In this Perspective, we advocate for a paradigm shift in which smaller mechanistic trials are conducted to define immune mechanisms and potentially identify treatment responders. The stage is set for these interventions in individuals at risk for type 1 diabetes as Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet has identified thousands of relatives with islet autoantibodies and general population screening for type 1 diabetes risk is under way. Mechanistic trials will allow for better trial design and patient selection based upon molecular markers prior to large randomized controlled trials, moving toward a personalized medicine approach for the prevention of type 1 diabetes.
Strength in Numbers: Opportunities for Enhancing the Development of Effective Treatments for Type 1 Diabetes--The TrialNet Experience
The early to mid-1980s were an inflection point in the history of type 1 diabetes research. Two landmark events occurred: the initiation of immune-based interventions seeking to prevent type 1 diabetes and the presentation of an innovative model describing the disorder’s natural history. Both formed the basis for hundreds of subsequent studies designed to achieve a dramatic therapeutic goal—a means to prevent and/or reverse type 1 diabetes. However, the need to screen large numbers of individuals and prospectively monitor them using immunologic and metabolic tests for extended periods of time suggested such efforts would require a large collaborative network. Hence, the National Institutes of Health formed the landmark Diabetes Prevention Trial-Type 1 (DPT-1) in the mid-1990s, an effort that led to Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet. TrialNet studies have helped identify novel biomarkers; delineate type 1 diabetes progression, resulting in identification of highly predictable stages defined by the accumulation of autoantibodies (stage 1), dysglycemia (stage 2), and disease meeting clinical criteria for diagnosis (stage 3); and oversee numerous clinical trials aimed at preventing disease progression. Such efforts pave the way for stage-specific intervention trials with improved hope that a means to effectively disrupt the disorder’s development will be identified.
Activating brown adipose tissue (BAT) could provide a potential approach for the treatment of obesity and metabolic disease in humans. Obesity is associated with upregulation of the endocannabinoid system, and blocking the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R) has been shown to cause weight loss and to decrease cardiometabolic risk factors. These effects may be mediated partly via increased BAT metabolism, since there is evidence that CB1R antagonism activates BAT in rodents. To investigate the significance of CB1R in BAT function, we quantified the density of CB1R in human and rodent BAT using the positron emission tomography radioligand [18F]FMPEP-d2 and measured BAT activation in parallel with the glucose analog [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose. Activation by cold exposure markedly increased CB1R density and glucose uptake in the BAT of lean men. Similarly, β3-receptor agonism increased CB1R density in the BAT of rats. In contrast, overweight men with reduced BAT activity exhibited decreased CB1R in BAT, reflecting impaired endocannabinoid regulation. Image-guided biopsies confirmed CB1R mRNA expression in human BAT. Furthermore, CB1R blockade increased glucose uptake and lipolysis of brown adipocytes. Our results highlight that CB1Rs are significant for human BAT activity, and the CB1Rs provide a novel therapeutic target for BAT activation in humans.
We observed that a 4-h morning (AM) duodenal infusion of glucose versus saline doubled hepatic glucose uptake (HGU) and storage during a hyperinsulinemic–hyperglycemic (HIHG) clamp that afternoon (PM). To separate the effects of AM hyperglycemia versus AM hyperinsulinemia on the PM response, we used hepatic balance and tracer ([3-3H]glucose) techniques in conscious dogs. From 0 to 240 min, dogs underwent a euinsulinemic-hyperglycemic (GLC; n = 7) or hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic (INS; n = 8) clamp. Tracer equilibration and basal sampling occurred from 240 to 360 min, followed by an HIHG clamp (360–600 min; four times basal insulin, two times basal glycemia) with portal glucose infusion (4 mg ⋅ kg–1 ⋅ min–1). In the HIHG clamp, HGU (5.8 ± 0.9 vs. 3.3 ± 0.3 mg ⋅ kg–1 ⋅ min–1) and net glycogen storage (6.0 ± 0.8 vs. 2.9 ± 0.5 mg ⋅ kg–1 ⋅ min–1) were approximately twofold greater in INS than in GLC. PM hepatic glycogen content (1.9 ± 0.2 vs. 1.3 ± 0.2 g/kg body weight) and glycogen synthase (GS) activity were also greater in INS versus GLC, whereas glycogen phosphorylase (GP) activity was reduced. Thus AM hyperinsulinemia, but not AM hyperglycemia, enhanced the HGU response to a PM HIHG clamp by augmenting GS and reducing GP activity. AM hyperinsulinemia can prime the liver to extract and store glucose more effectively during subsequent same-day meals, potentially providing a tool to improve glucose control.
Insulin regulates glucose metabolism by eliciting effects on peripheral tissues as well as the brain. Insulin receptor (IR) signaling inhibits AgRP-expressing neurons in the hypothalamus to contribute to the suppression of hepatic glucose production (HGP) by insulin, whereas AgRP neuronal activation attenuates brown adipose tissue (BAT) glucose uptake. The tyrosine phosphatase TCPTP suppresses IR signaling in AgRP neurons. Hypothalamic TCPTP is induced by fasting and degraded after feeding. Here we assessed the influence of TCPTP in AgRP neurons in the control of glucose metabolism. TCPTP deletion in AgRP neurons (Agrp-Cre;Ptpn2fl/fl) enhanced insulin sensitivity, as assessed by the increased glucose infusion rates, and reduced HGP during hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps, accompanied by increased [14C]-2-deoxy-d-glucose uptake in BAT and browned white adipose tissue. TCPTP deficiency in AgRP neurons promoted the intracerebroventricular insulin-induced repression of hepatic gluconeogenesis in otherwise unresponsive food-restricted mice, yet had no effect in fed/satiated mice where hypothalamic TCPTP levels are reduced. The improvement in glucose homeostasis in Agrp-Cre;Ptpn2fl/fl mice was corrected by IR heterozygosity (Agrp-Cre;Ptpn2fl/fl;Insrfl/+), causally linking the effects on glucose metabolism with the IR signaling in AgRP neurons. Our findings demonstrate that TCPTP controls IR signaling in AgRP neurons to coordinate HGP and brown/beige adipocyte glucose uptake in response to feeding/fasting.
Ceramide Transporter CERT Is Involved in Muscle Insulin Signaling Defects Under Lipotoxic Conditions
One main mechanism of insulin resistance (IR), a key feature of type 2 diabetes, is the accumulation of saturated fatty acids (FAs) in the muscles of obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Understanding the mechanism that underlies lipid-induced IR is an important challenge. Saturated FAs are metabolized into lipid derivatives called ceramides, and their accumulation plays a central role in the development of muscle IR. Ceramides are produced in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and transported to the Golgi apparatus through a transporter called CERT, where they are converted into various sphingolipid species. We show that CERT protein expression is reduced in all IR models studied because of a caspase-dependent cleavage. Inhibiting CERT activity in vitro potentiates the deleterious action of lipotoxicity on insulin signaling, whereas overexpression of CERT in vitro or in vivo decreases muscle ceramide content and improves insulin signaling. In addition, inhibition of caspase activity prevents ceramide-induced insulin signaling defects in C2C12 muscle cells. Altogether, these results demonstrate the importance of physiological ER-to-Golgi ceramide traffic to preserve muscle cell insulin signaling and identify CERT as a major actor in this process.
During reduced energy intake, skeletal muscle maintains homeostasis by rapidly suppressing insulin-stimulated glucose utilization. Loss of this adaptation is observed with deficiency of the fatty acid transporter CD36. A similar loss is also characteristic of the insulin-resistant state where CD36 is dysfunctional. To elucidate what links CD36 to muscle glucose utilization, we examined whether CD36 signaling might influence insulin action. First, we show that CD36 deletion specific to skeletal muscle reduces expression of insulin signaling and glucose metabolism genes. It decreases muscle ceramides but impairs glucose disposal during a meal. Second, depletion of CD36 suppresses insulin signaling in primary-derived human myotubes, and the mechanism is shown to involve functional CD36 interaction with the insulin receptor (IR). CD36 promotes tyrosine phosphorylation of IR by the Fyn kinase and enhances IR recruitment of P85 and downstream signaling. Third, pretreatment for 15 min with saturated fatty acids suppresses CD36-Fyn enhancement of IR phosphorylation, whereas unsaturated fatty acids are neutral or stimulatory. These findings define mechanisms important for muscle glucose metabolism and optimal insulin responsiveness. Potential human relevance is suggested by genome-wide analysis and RNA sequencing data that associate genetically determined low muscle CD36 expression to incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Loss of OcaB Prevents Age-Induced Fat Accretion and Insulin Resistance by Altering B-Lymphocyte Transition and Promoting Energy Expenditure
The current demographic shift toward an aging population has led to a robust increase in the prevalence of age-associated metabolic disorders. Recent studies have demonstrated that the etiology of obesity-related insulin resistance that develops with aging differs from that induced by high-calorie diets. Whereas the role of adaptive immunity in changes in energy metabolism driven by nutritional challenges has recently gained attention, its impact on aging remains mostly unknown. Here we found that the number of follicular B2 lymphocytes and expression of the B-cell-specific transcriptional coactivator OcaB increase with age in spleen and in intra-abdominal epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT), concomitantly with higher circulating levels of IgG and impaired glucose homeostasis. Reduction of B-cell maturation and Ig production—especially that of IgG2c—by ablation of OcaB prevented age-induced glucose intolerance and insulin resistance and promoted energy expenditure by stimulating fatty acid utilization in eWAT and brown adipose tissue. Transfer of wild-type bone marrow in OcaB–/– mice replenished the eWAT B2-cell population and IgG levels, which diminished glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and energy expenditure while increasing body weight gain in aged mice. Thus these findings demonstrate that upon aging, modifications in B-cell-driven adaptive immunity contribute to glucose intolerance and fat accretion.
Mice Carrying a Dominant-Negative Human PI3K Mutation Are Protected From Obesity and Hepatic Steatosis but Not Diabetes
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) plays a central role in insulin signaling, glucose metabolism, cell growth, cell development, and apoptosis. A heterozygous missense mutation (R649W) in the p85α regulatory subunit gene of PI3K (PIK3R1) has been identified in patients with SHORT (Short stature, Hyperextensibility/Hernia, Ocular depression, Rieger anomaly, and Teething delay) syndrome, a disorder characterized by postnatal growth retardation, insulin resistance, and partial lipodystrophy. Knock-in mice with the same heterozygous mutation mirror the human phenotype. In this study, we show that Pik3r1 R649W knock-in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) have reduced weight gain and adipose accumulation. This is accompanied by reduced expression of several genes involved in lipid metabolism. Interestingly, despite the lower level of adiposity, the HFD knock-in mice are more hyperglycemic and more insulin-resistant than HFD-fed control mice. Likewise, when crossed with genetically obese ob/ob mice, the ob/ob mice carrying the heterozygous R649W mutation were protected from obesity and hepatic steatosis but developed a severe diabetic state. Together, our data demonstrate a central role of PI3K in development of obesity and fatty liver disease, separating these effects from the role of PI3K in insulin resistance and the resultant hyperglycemia.
Increased Hepatic PDGF-AA Signaling Mediates Liver Insulin Resistance in Obesity-Associated Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetes (T2D), hepatic insulin resistance is strongly associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this study, we hypothesized that the DNA methylome of livers from patients with T2D compared with livers of individuals with normal plasma glucose levels can unveil some mechanism of hepatic insulin resistance that could link to NAFLD. Using DNA methylome and transcriptome analyses of livers from obese individuals, we found that hypomethylation at a CpG site in PDGFA (encoding platelet-derived growth factor α) and PDGFA overexpression are both associated with increased T2D risk, hyperinsulinemia, increased insulin resistance, and increased steatohepatitis risk. Genetic risk score studies and human cell modeling pointed to a causative effect of high insulin levels on PDGFA CpG site hypomethylation, PDGFA overexpression, and increased PDGF-AA secretion from the liver. We found that PDGF-AA secretion further stimulates its own expression through protein kinase C activity and contributes to insulin resistance through decreased expression of insulin receptor substrate 1 and of insulin receptor. Importantly, hepatocyte insulin sensitivity can be restored by PDGF-AA–blocking antibodies, PDGF receptor inhibitors, and by metformin, opening therapeutic avenues. Therefore, in the liver of obese patients with T2D, the increased PDGF-AA signaling contributes to insulin resistance, opening new therapeutic avenues against T2D and possibly NAFLD.
Previously, we showed that thyroid hormone (TH) triiodothyronine (T3) enhanced β-cell functional maturation through induction of Mafa. High levels of T3 have been linked to decreased life span in mammals and low levels to lengthened life span, suggesting a relationship between TH and aging. Here, we show that T3 increased p16Ink4a (a β-cell senescence marker and effector) mRNA in rodent and human β-cells. The kinetics of Mafa and p16Ink4a induction suggested both genes as targets of TH via TH receptors (THRs) binding to specific response elements. Using specific agonists CO23 and GC1, we showed that p16Ink4a expression was controlled by THRA and Mafa by THRB. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation and a transient transfection yielding biotinylated THRB1 or THRA isoforms to achieve specificity, we determined that THRA isoform bound to p16Ink4a, whereas THRB1 bound to Mafa but not to p16Ink4a. On a cellular level, T3 treatment accelerated cell senescence as shown by increased number of β-cells with acidic β-galactosidase activity. Our data show that T3 can simultaneously induce both maturation (Mafa) and aging (p16Ink4a) effectors and that these dichotomous effects are mediated through different THR isoforms. These findings may be important for further improving stem cell differentiation protocols to produce functional β-cells for replacement therapies in diabetes.