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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


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


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


Bariatric surgery is currently the most effective procedure for the treatment of obesity. Given the role of the gut microbiota in regulating host metabolism and adiposity, we investigated the long-term effects of bariatric surgery on the microbiome of patients randomized to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or vertical banded gastroplasty and matched for weight and fat mass loss. The two surgical procedures induced similar and durable changes on the gut microbiome that were not dependent on body mass index and resulted in altered levels of fecal and circulating metabolites compared with obese controls. By colonizing germ-free mice with stools from the patients, we demonstrated that the surgically altered microbiota promoted reduced fat deposition in recipient mice. These mice also had a lower respiratory quotient, indicating decreased utilization of carbohydrates as fuel. Our results suggest that the gut microbiota may play a direct role in the reduction of adiposity observed after bariatric surgery.

Concepts: Gut flora, Nutrition, Obesity, Surgery, Weight loss, Bariatric surgery, Gastric bypass surgery, Bariatrics


Mice and humans with growth hormone receptor/IGF-1 deficiencies display major reductions in age-related diseases. Because protein restriction reduces GHR-IGF-1 activity, we examined links between protein intake and mortality. Respondents aged 50-65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived. Conversely, high protein intake was associated with reduced cancer and overall mortality in respondents over 65, but a 5-fold increase in diabetes mortality across all ages. Mouse studies confirmed the effect of high protein intake and GHR-IGF-1 signaling on the incidence and progression of breast and melanoma tumors, but also the detrimental effects of a low protein diet in the very old. These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults may optimize healthspan and longevity.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Death, Hormone, Middle Ages, Growth hormone, Diet


In patients with cancer, the wasting syndrome, cachexia, is associated with caloric deficiency. Here, we describe tumor-induced alterations of the host metabolic response to caloric deficiency that cause intratumoral immune suppression. In pre-cachectic mice with transplanted colorectal cancer or autochthonous pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), we find that IL-6 reduces the hepatic ketogenic potential through suppression of PPARalpha, the transcriptional master regulator of ketogenesis. When these mice are challenged with caloric deficiency, the resulting relative hypoketonemia triggers a marked rise in glucocorticoid levels. Multiple intratumoral immune pathways are suppressed by this hormonal stress response. Moreover, administering corticosterone to elevate plasma corticosterone to a level that is lower than that occurring in cachectic mice abolishes the response of mouse PDA to an immunotherapy that has advanced to clinical trials. Therefore, tumor-induced IL-6 impairs the ketogenic response to reduced caloric intake, resulting in a systemic metabolic stress response that blocks anti-cancer immunotherapy.

Concepts: Immune system, Metabolism, Immunology, Colorectal cancer, Cachexia, Ketone bodies, Suppression, Suppression of dissent


Because current therapeutics for obesity are limited and only offer modest improvements, novel interventions are needed. Preventing obesity with time-restricted feeding (TRF; 8-9 hr food access in the active phase) is promising, yet its therapeutic applicability against preexisting obesity, diverse dietary conditions, and less stringent eating patterns is unknown. Here we tested TRF in mice under diverse nutritional challenges. We show that TRF attenuated metabolic diseases arising from a variety of obesogenic diets, and that benefits were proportional to the fasting duration. Furthermore, protective effects were maintained even when TRF was temporarily interrupted by ad libitum access to food during weekends, a regimen particularly relevant to human lifestyle. Finally, TRF stabilized and reversed the progression of metabolic diseases in mice with preexisting obesity and type II diabetes. We establish clinically relevant parameters of TRF for preventing and treating obesity and metabolic disorders, including type II diabetes, hepatic steatosis, and hypercholesterolemia.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Hypertension, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Obesity, Metabolic syndrome


Rediscovery of cold-activated brown adipose tissue (BAT) in humans has boosted research interest in identifying BAT activators for metabolic benefits. Of particular interest are cytokines capable of fat browning. Irisin, derived from FNDC5, is an exercise-induced myokine that drives brown-fat-like thermogenesis in murine white fat. Here we explored whether cold exposure is an afferent signal for irisin secretion in humans and compared it with FGF21, a brown adipokine in rodents. Cold exposure increased circulating irisin and FGF21. We found an induction of irisin secretion proportional to shivering intensity, in magnitude similar to exercise-stimulated secretion. FNDC5 and/or FGF21 treatment upregulated human adipocyte brown fat gene/protein expression and thermogenesis in a depot-specific manner. These results suggest exercise-induced irisin secretion could have evolved from shivering-related muscle contraction, serving to augment brown fat thermogenesis in concert with FGF21. Irisin-mediated muscle-adipose crosstalk may represent a thermogenic, cold-activated endocrine axis that is exploitable in obesity therapeutics development.

Concepts: Muscle, Fat, Adipose tissue, Tissues, Adipocyte, Brown adipose tissue, White adipose tissue, Thermogenesis


Dietary lipids may influence the abundance of circulating inflammatory microbial factors. Hence, inflammation in white adipose tissue (WAT) induced by dietary lipids may be partly dependent on their interaction with the gut microbiota. Here, we show that mice fed lard for 11 weeks have increased Toll-like receptor (TLR) activation and WAT inflammation and reduced insulin sensitivity compared with mice fed fish oil and that phenotypic differences between the dietary groups can be partly attributed to differences in microbiota composition. Trif(-/-) and Myd88(-/-) mice are protected against lard-induced WAT inflammation and impaired insulin sensitivity. Experiments in germ-free mice show that an interaction between gut microbiota and saturated lipids promotes WAT inflammation independent of adiposity. Finally, we demonstrate that the chemokine CCL2 contributes to microbiota-induced WAT inflammation in lard-fed mice. These results indicate that gut microbiota exacerbates metabolic inflammation through TLR signaling upon challenge with a diet rich in saturated lipids.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Protein, Signal transduction, Obesity, Fat, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue


Peripheral processes that mediate beneficial effects of exercise on the brain remain sparsely explored. Here, we show that a muscle secretory factor, cathepsin B (CTSB) protein, is important for the cognitive and neurogenic benefits of running. Proteomic analysis revealed elevated levels of CTSB in conditioned medium derived from skeletal muscle cell cultures treated with AMP-kinase agonist AICAR. Consistently, running increased CTSB levels in mouse gastrocnemius muscle and plasma. Furthermore, recombinant CTSB application enhanced expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and doublecortin (DCX) in adult hippocampal progenitor cells through a mechanism dependent on the multifunctional protein P11. In vivo, in CTSB knockout (KO) mice, running did not enhance adult hippocampal neurogenesis and spatial memory function. Interestingly, in Rhesus monkeys and humans, treadmill exercise elevated CTSB in plasma. In humans, changes in CTSB levels correlated with fitness and hippocampus-dependent memory function. Our findings suggest CTSB as a mediator of effects of exercise on cognition.

Concepts: Psychology, Cell, Brain, Cell biology, Hippocampus, Primate, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Cathepsin B