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Alterations in 3-Hydroxyisobutyrate and FGF21 Metabolism Are Associated With Protein Ingestion–Induced Insulin Resistance

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      Systemic hyperaminoacidemia, induced by either intravenous amino acid infusion or protein ingestion, reduces insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. Studies of mice suggest that the valine metabolite 3-hydroxyisobutyrate (3-HIB), fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), adiponectin, and nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs) may be involved in amino acid–mediated insulin resistance. We therefore measured in 30 women the rate of glucose disposal, and plasma 3-HIB, FGF21, adiponectin, and NEFA concentrations, under basal conditions and during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp procedure (HECP), with and without concomitant ingestion of protein (n = 15) or an amount of leucine that matched the amount of protein (n = 15). We found that during the HECP without protein or leucine ingestion, the grand mean ± SEM plasma 3-HIB concentration decreased (from 35 ± 2 to 14 ± 1 µmol/L) and the grand median [quartiles] FGF21 concentration increased (from 178 [116, 217] to 509 [340, 648] pg/mL). Ingestion of protein, but not leucine, decreased insulin-stimulated glucose disposal (P < 0.05) and prevented both the HECP-mediated decrease in 3-HIB and increase in FGF21 concentration in plasma. Neither protein nor leucine ingestion altered plasma adiponectin or NEFA concentrations. These findings suggest that 3-HIB and FGF21 might be involved in protein-mediated insulin resistance in humans.

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      FGF-21 as a novel metabolic regulator.

      Diabetes mellitus is a major health concern, affecting more than 5% of the population. Here we describe a potential novel therapeutic agent for this disease, FGF-21, which was discovered to be a potent regulator of glucose uptake in mouse 3T3-L1 and primary human adipocytes. FGF-21-transgenic mice were viable and resistant to diet-induced obesity. Therapeutic administration of FGF-21 reduced plasma glucose and triglycerides to near normal levels in both ob/ob and db/db mice. These effects persisted for at least 24 hours following the cessation of FGF-21 administration. Importantly, FGF-21 did not induce mitogenicity, hypoglycemia, or weight gain at any dose tested in diabetic or healthy animals or when overexpressed in transgenic mice. Thus, we conclude that FGF-21, which we have identified as a novel metabolic factor, exhibits the therapeutic characteristics necessary for an effective treatment of diabetes.
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        Mechanism of free fatty acid-induced insulin resistance in humans.

        To examine the mechanism by which lipids cause insulin resistance in humans, skeletal muscle glycogen and glucose-6-phosphate concentrations were measured every 15 min by simultaneous 13C and 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in nine healthy subjects in the presence of low (0.18 +/- 0.02 mM [mean +/- SEM]; control) or high (1.93 +/- 0.04 mM; lipid infusion) plasma free fatty acid levels under euglycemic (approximately 5.2 mM) hyperinsulinemic (approximately 400 pM) clamp conditions for 6 h. During the initial 3.5 h of the clamp the rate of whole-body glucose uptake was not affected by lipid infusion, but it then decreased continuously to be approximately 46% of control values after 6 h (P < 0.00001). Augmented lipid oxidation was accompanied by a approximately 40% reduction of oxidative glucose metabolism starting during the third hour of lipid infusion (P < 0.05). Rates of muscle glycogen synthesis were similar during the first 3 h of lipid and control infusion, but thereafter decreased to approximately 50% of control values (4.0 +/- 1.0 vs. 9.3 +/- 1.6 mumol/[kg.min], P < 0.05). Reduction of muscle glycogen synthesis by elevated plasma free fatty acids was preceded by a fall of muscle glucose-6-phosphate concentrations starting at approximately 1.5 h (195 +/- 25 vs. control: 237 +/- 26 mM; P < 0.01). Therefore in contrast to the originally postulated mechanism in which free fatty acids were thought to inhibit insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in muscle through initial inhibition of pyruvate dehydrogenase these results demonstrate that free fatty acids induce insulin resistance in humans by initial inhibition of glucose transport/phosphorylation which is then followed by an approximately 50% reduction in both the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis and glucose oxidation.
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          Branched-chain amino acids in metabolic signalling and insulin resistance.

           J. Lynch,  David Adams (2014)
          Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are important nutrient signals that have direct and indirect effects. Frequently, BCAAs have been reported to mediate antiobesity effects, especially in rodent models. However, circulating levels of BCAAs tend to be increased in individuals with obesity and are associated with worse metabolic health and future insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). A hypothesized mechanism linking increased levels of BCAAs and T2DM involves leucine-mediated activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), which results in uncoupling of insulin signalling at an early stage. A BCAA dysmetabolism model proposes that the accumulation of mitotoxic metabolites (and not BCAAs per se) promotes β-cell mitochondrial dysfunction, stress signalling and apoptosis associated with T2DM. Alternatively, insulin resistance might promote aminoacidaemia by increasing the protein degradation that insulin normally suppresses, and/or by eliciting an impairment of efficient BCAA oxidative metabolism in some tissues. Whether and how impaired BCAA metabolism might occur in obesity is discussed in this Review. Research on the role of individual and model-dependent differences in BCAA metabolism is needed, as several genes (BCKDHA, PPM1K, IVD and KLF15) have been designated as candidate genes for obesity and/or T2DM in humans, and distinct phenotypes of tissue-specific branched chain ketoacid dehydrogenase complex activity have been detected in animal models of obesity and T2DM.

            Author and article information

            Center for Human Nutrition and Atkins Center of Excellence in Obesity Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
            Author notes
            Corresponding author: Bettina Mittendorfer, mittendb@ .
            American Diabetes Association
            July 2017
            4 May 2017
            : 66
            : 7
            : 1871-1878
            © 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.

            Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at

            Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 50, Pages: 8
            Funded by: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, DOI;
            Award ID: DK-094483
            Award ID: DK-101578
            Award ID: DK-056341
            Award ID: DK-020579
            Funded by: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, DOI;
            Award ID: UL1-TR-000448
            Award ID: KL2 subaward TR-000450
            Obesity Studies

            Endocrinology & Diabetes


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