Understanding adipokine secretion and adipocyte-macrophage cellular interactions, in search for the molecular basis of insulin sensitivity and resistance



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Kansas State University


My work focused on understanding adipocyte function and regulation because of the importance to diabetes. In addition to being a fat storage depot, adipose tissue is an endocrine tissue. Adiponectin and leptin are two adipokines that control insulin sensitivity and energy balance. In spite of their importance, there are still questions about their secretion. I hypothesized that leptin and adiponectin follow different secretory routes. I found adiponectin localized in Golgi and the trans Golgi Network, while leptin mostly localized in ER during basal metabolisms. Common requirements for their secretion were the presence of class III Arf proteins and an intact Golgi apparatus, since BFA treatment inhibited secretion of both adiponectin and leptin. I found that trafficking of adiponectin is dependent on GGA1 coated vesicles. Endosomal inactivation significantly reduced adiponectin, but not leptin, secretion in both 3T3L1 and isolated rat adipocytes. Also, adiponectin, but not leptin, secretion was reduced in cells expressing non- functional form of Rab11 and Rab5 proteins. However, secretion of leptin, but not adiponectin was inhibited in cells expressing mutants of Protein Kinase D1. These results suggest that leptin and adiponectin secretion involve distinct intracellular compartments and pathways. Insulin resistance is associated with macrophage infiltration into adipose tissue and elevated levels of IL-6, TNF-alpha and IL-1beta Therefore, the second part of my dissertation tested the hypothesis that the interaction of macrophages and adipocytes causes insulin resistance. To test this hypothesis, I co-cultured macrophages and adipocytes. I found that mouse elicited peritoneal macrophages significantly decreased insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation to the plasma membrane in a contact-independent manner. IL-6 was the most inhibitory cytokine in reducing GLUT4 translocation, GLUT4 expression, Akt phsphorylation and reducing adipocyte differentiation compared to TNF-alpha and IL-1beta. These data suggest that IL-6 is the most effective cytokine secreted by macrophages involved in insulin resistance. Lastly, I tested the impact of adipocytes on macrophage differentiation in vitro and in vivo. I found that C2D macrophages isolated from the peritoneal cavity had increased IL-6 transcript levels after co-culture with 3T3L1 adipocytes in vitro. After i.p. injection, C2D macrophages isolated from WAT increased expression of mature macrophage surface markers and transcript levels of proinflammatory cytokines compared to C2D cells in vitro. However, macrophages isolated from BAT expressed low levels of cytokines and macrophage surface markers.



Adipocytes, Macrophage, Adiponectin, Leptin, Insulin resistance, Intracellular trafficking

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Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Biology

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Stephen K. Chapes; Silvia Mora Fayos