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Journal: Cell metabolism


Sequencing of candidate genes for obesity in Labrador retriever dogs identified a 14 bp deletion in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) with an allele frequency of 12%. The deletion disrupts the β-MSH and β-endorphin coding sequences and is associated with body weight (per allele effect of 0.33 SD), adiposity, and greater food motivation. Among other dog breeds, the deletion was only found in the closely related flat-coat retriever (FCR), where it is similarly associated with body weight and food motivation. The mutation is significantly more common in Labrador retrievers selected to become assistance dogs than pets. In conclusion, the deletion in POMC is a significant modifier of weight and appetite in Labrador retrievers and FCRs and may influence other behavioral traits.

Concepts: Genetics, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labradoodle, Guide dog


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a major comorbidity of COVID-19. However, the impact of blood glucose (BG) control on the degree of required medical interventions and on mortality in patients with COVID-19 and T2D remains uncertain. Thus, we performed a retrospective, multi-centered study of 7,337 cases of COVID-19 in Hubei Province, China, among which 952 had pre-existing T2D. We found that subjects with T2D required more medical interventions and had a significantly higher mortality (7.8% versus 2.7%; adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.49) and multiple organ injury than the non-diabetic individuals. Further, we found that well-controlled BG (glycemic variability within 3.9 to 10.0 mmol/L) was associated with markedly lower mortality compared to individuals with poorly controlled BG (upper limit of glycemic variability exceeding 10.0 mmol/L) (adjusted HR, 0.14) during hospitalization. These findings provide clinical evidence correlating improved glycemic control with better outcomes in patients with COVID-19 and pre-existing T2D.


COVID-19 can result in severe lung injury. It remained to be determined why diabetic individuals with uncontrolled glucose levels are more prone to develop the severe form of COVID-19. The molecular mechanism underlying SARS-CoV-2 infection and what determines the onset of the cytokine storm found in severe COVID-19 patients are unknown. Monocytes and macrophages are the most enriched immune cell types in the lungs of COVID-19 patients and appear to have a central role in the pathogenicity of the disease. These cells adapt their metabolism upon infection and become highly glycolytic, which facilitates SARS-CoV-2 replication. The infection triggers mitochondrial ROS production, which induces stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and consequently promotes glycolysis. HIF-1α-induced changes in monocyte metabolism by SARS-CoV-2 infection directly inhibit T cell response and reduce epithelial cell survival. Targeting HIF-1ɑ may have great therapeutic potential for the development of novel drugs to treat COVID-19.


We investigated whether ultra-processed foods affect energy intake in 20 weight-stable adults, aged (mean ± SE) 31.2 ± 1.6 years and BMI = 27 ± 1.5 kg/m2. Subjects were admitted to the NIH Clinical Center and randomized to receive either ultra-processed or unprocessed diets for 2 weeks immediately followed by the alternate diet for 2 weeks. Meals were designed to be matched for presented calories, energy density, macronutrients, sugar, sodium, and fiber. Subjects were instructed to consume as much or as little as desired. Energy intake was greater during the ultra-processed diet (508 ± 106 kcal/day; p = 0.0001), with increased consumption of carbohydrate (280 ± 54 kcal/day; p < 0.0001) and fat (230 ± 53 kcal/day; p = 0.0004), but not protein (-2 ± 12 kcal/day; p = 0.85). Weight changes were highly correlated with energy intake (r = 0.8, p < 0.0001), with participants gaining 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.009) during the ultra-processed diet and losing 0.9 ± 0.3 kg (p = 0.007) during the unprocessed diet. Limiting consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment.


Statins are lipid-lowering therapeutics with favorable anti-inflammatory profiles and have been proposed as an adjunct therapy for COVID-19. However, statins may increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 viral entry by inducing ACE2 expression. Here, we performed a retrospective study on 13,981 patients with COVID-19 in Hubei Province, China, among which 1,219 received statins. Based on a mixed-effect Cox model after propensity score-matching, we found that the risk for 28-day all-cause mortality was 5.2% and 9.4% in the matched statin and non-statin groups, respectively, with an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.58. The statin use-associated lower risk of mortality was also observed in the Cox time-varying model and marginal structural model analysis. These results give support for the completion of ongoing prospective studies and randomized controlled trials involving statin treatment for COVID-19, which are needed to further validate the utility of this class of drugs to combat the mortality of this pandemic.


Obesity is a heterogeneous phenotype that is crudely measured by body mass index (BMI). There is a need for a more precise yet portable method of phenotyping and categorizing risk in large numbers of people with obesity to advance clinical care and drug development. Here, we used non-targeted metabolomics and whole-genome sequencing to identify metabolic and genetic signatures of obesity. We find that obesity results in profound perturbation of the metabolome; nearly a third of the assayed metabolites associated with changes in BMI. A metabolome signature identifies the healthy obese and lean individuals with abnormal metabolomes-these groups differ in health outcomes and underlying genetic risk. Specifically, an abnormal metabolome associated with a 2- to 5-fold increase in cardiovascular events when comparing individuals who were matched for BMI but had opposing metabolome signatures. Because metabolome profiling identifies clinically meaningful heterogeneity in obesity, this approach could help select patients for clinical trials.


In animal models, time-restricted feeding (TRF) can prevent and reverse aspects of metabolic diseases. Time-restricted eating (TRE) in human pilot studies reduces the risks of metabolic diseases in otherwise healthy individuals. However, patients with diagnosed metabolic syndrome often undergo pharmacotherapy, and it has never been tested whether TRE can act synergistically with pharmacotherapy in animal models or humans. In a single-arm, paired-sample trial, 19 participants with metabolic syndrome and a baseline mean daily eating window of ≥14 h, the majority of whom were on a statin and/or antihypertensive therapy, underwent 10 h of TRE (all dietary intake within a consistent self-selected 10 h window) for 12 weeks. We found this TRE intervention improves cardiometabolic health for patients with metabolic syndrome receiving standard medical care including high rates of statin and anti-hypertensive use. TRE is a potentially powerful lifestyle intervention that can be added to standard medical practice to treat metabolic syndrome. VIDEO ABSTRACT.


The molecular transducers of benefits from different exercise modalities remain incompletely defined. Here we report that 12 weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval (HIIT), resistance (RT), and combined exercise training enhanced insulin sensitivity and lean mass, but only HIIT and combined training improved aerobic capacity and skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration. HIIT revealed a more robust increase in gene transcripts than other exercise modalities, particularly in older adults, although little overlap with corresponding individual protein abundance was noted. HIIT reversed many age-related differences in the proteome, particularly of mitochondrial proteins in concert with increased mitochondrial protein synthesis. Both RT and HIIT enhanced proteins involved in translational machinery irrespective of age. Only small changes of methylation of DNA promoter regions were observed. We provide evidence for predominant exercise regulation at the translational level, enhancing translational capacity and proteome abundance to explain phenotypic gains in muscle mitochondrial function and hypertrophy in all ages.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Oxygen, Gene, Metabolism, Mitochondrion, Cellular respiration, Exercise physiology


Intermittent fasting (IF) improves cardiometabolic health; however, it is unknown whether these effects are due solely to weight loss. We conducted the first supervised controlled feeding trial to test whether IF has benefits independent of weight loss by feeding participants enough food to maintain their weight. Our proof-of-concept study also constitutes the first trial of early time-restricted feeding (eTRF), a form of IF that involves eating early in the day to be in alignment with circadian rhythms in metabolism. Men with prediabetes were randomized to eTRF (6-hr feeding period, with dinner before 3 p.m.) or a control schedule (12-hr feeding period) for 5 weeks and later crossed over to the other schedule. eTRF improved insulin sensitivity, β cell responsiveness, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and appetite. We demonstrate for the first time in humans that eTRF improves some aspects of cardiometabolic health and that IF’s effects are not solely due to weight loss.


Prolonged fasting (PF) promotes stress resistance, but its effects on longevity are poorly understood. We show that alternating PF and nutrient-rich medium extended yeast lifespan independently of established pro-longevity genes. In mice, 4 days of a diet that mimics fasting (FMD), developed to minimize the burden of PF, decreased the size of multiple organs/systems, an effect followed upon re-feeding by an elevated number of progenitor and stem cells and regeneration. Bi-monthly FMD cycles started at middle age extended longevity, lowered visceral fat, reduced cancer incidence and skin lesions, rejuvenated the immune system, and retarded bone mineral density loss. In old mice, FMD cycles promoted hippocampal neurogenesis, lowered IGF-1 levels and PKA activity, elevated NeuroD1, and improved cognitive performance. In a pilot clinical trial, three FMD cycles decreased risk factors/biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer without major adverse effects, providing support for the use of FMDs to promote healthspan.

Concepts: HIV, Immune system, Cancer, Bone marrow, Chemotherapy, Immunology, Immunity, Neurogenesis