Caspase-2 promotes obesity, the metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Obesity and its resulting metabolic disturbances are major health threats. In response to energy surplus, overtaxed adipocytes release fatty acids and pro-inflammatory factors into the circulation, promoting organ fat accumulation (including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease), insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. Recently, caspase-2 was linked to lipoapoptosis, so we hypothesized that caspase-2 might be a critical determinant of metabolic syndrome pathogenesis. Caspase-2-deficient and wild-type mice were fed a Western diet (high-fat diet, enriched with saturated fatty acids and 0.2% cholesterol, supplemented with fructose and glucose in the drinking water) for 16 weeks. Metabolic and hepatic outcomes were evaluated. In vitro studies assessed the role of caspase-2 in adipose tissue proliferative properties and susceptibility for lipoapoptosis. Caspase-2-deficient mice fed a Western diet were protected from abdominal fat deposition, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia and hepatic steatosis. Adipose tissue in caspase-2-deficient mice was more proliferative, upregulated mitochondrial uncoupling proteins consistent with browning, and was resistant to cell hypertrophy and cell death. The liver was protected from steatohepatitis through a decrease in circulating fatty acids and more efficient hepatic fat metabolism, and from fibrosis as a consequence of reduced fibrogenic stimuli from fewer lipotoxic hepatocytes. Caspase-2 deficiency protected mice from diet-induced obesity, metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Further studies are necessary to assess caspase-2 as a therapeutic target for those conditions.
Machado, MV; Michelotti, GA; Jewell, ML; Pereira, TA; Xie, G; Premont, RT; Diehl, AM
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