Insulin is a key regulator of adipose tissue lipolysis, and impaired adipose tissue insulin action results in unrestrained lipolysis and lipotoxicity, which are hallmarks of the metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Insulin regulates adipose tissue metabolism through direct effects on adipocytes and through signaling in the central nervous system by dampening sympathetic outflow to the adipose tissue. Here we examined the role of insulin signaling in agouti-related protein (AgRP) and proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in regulating hepatic and adipose tissue insulin action. Mice lacking the insulin receptor in AgRP neurons (AgRP IR KO) exhibited impaired hepatic insulin action because the ability of insulin to suppress hepatic glucose production (hGP) was reduced, but the ability of insulin to suppress lipolysis was unaltered. To the contrary, in POMC IR KO mice, insulin lowered hGP but failed to suppress adipose tissue lipolysis. High-fat diet equally worsened glucose tolerance in AgRP and POMC IR KO mice and their respective controls but increased hepatic triglyceride levels only in POMC IR KO mice, consistent with impaired lipolytic regulation resulting in fatty liver. These data suggest that although insulin signaling in AgRP neurons is important in regulating glucose metabolism, insulin signaling in POMC neurons controls adipose tissue lipolysis and prevents high-fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism