Enhancing liver mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation capacity in obese mice improves insulin sensitivity independently of hepatic steatosis

Julia Monsénégo, Abdelhak Mansouri, Marie Akkaoui, Véronique Lenoir, Catherine Esnous, Véronique Fauveau, Valentin Tavernier, Jean Girard, Carina Prip-Buus
Journal of Hepatology 2012, 56 (3): 632-9

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Despite major public health concern, therapy for non-alcoholic fatty liver, the liver manifestation of the metabolic syndrome often associated with insulin resistance (IR), remains elusive. Strategies aiming to decrease liver lipogenesis effectively corrected hepatic steatosis and IR in obese animals. However, they also indirectly increased mitochondrial long-chain fatty acid oxidation (mFAO) by decreasing malonyl-CoA, a lipogenic intermediate, which is the allosteric inhibitor of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1A), the key enzyme of mFAO. We thus addressed whether enhancing hepatic mFAO capacity, through a direct modulation of liver CPT1A/malonyl-CoA partnership, can reverse an already established hepatic steatosis and IR in obese mice.

METHODS: Adenovirus-mediated liver expression of a malonyl-CoA-insensitive CPT1A (CPT1mt) in high-fat/high-sucrose (HF/HS) diet-induced or genetically (ob/ob) obese mice was followed by metabolic and physiological investigations.

RESULTS: In association with increased hepatic mFAO capacity, liver CPT1mt expression improved glucose tolerance and insulin response to a glucose load in HF/HS and ob/ob mice, showing increased insulin sensitivity, and corrected IR in ob/ob mice. Surprisingly, hepatic steatosis was not affected in CPT1mt-expressing obese mice, indicating a clear dissociation between hepatic steatosis and IR. Moreover, liver CPT1mt expression rescued HF/HS-induced impaired hepatic insulin signaling at the level of IRS-1, IRS-2, Akt, and GSK-3β, most likely through the observed decrease in the HF/HS-induced accumulation of lipotoxic lipids, oxidative stress, and JNK activation.

CONCLUSIONS: Enhancing hepatic mFAO capacity is sufficient to reverse a state of IR and glucose intolerance in obese mice independently of hepatic steatosis.

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