Diet-Genotype Interactions in the Development of the Obese, Insulin-Resistant Phenotype of C57BL/6J Mice Lacking Melanocortin-3 or -4 Receptors

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Abstract

Loss of brain melanocortin receptors (Mc3rKO and Mc4rKO) causes increased adiposity and exacerbates diet-induced obesity (DIO). Little is known about how Mc3r or Mc4r genotype, diet, and obesity affect insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance, assessed by insulin and glucose tolerance tests, Ser307 phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate 1, and activation of protein kinase B, was examined in control and DIO wild-type (WT), Mc3rKO and Mc4rKO C57BL/6J mice. Mc4rKO mice were hyperphagic and had increased metabolic efficiency (weight gain per kilojoule consumed) relative to WT; both parameters increased further on high-fat diet. Obesity of Mc3rKO was more dependent on fat intake, involving increased metabolic efficiency. Fat mass of DIO Mc3rKO and Mc4rKO was similar, although Mc4rKO gained weight more rapidly. Mc4rKO develop hepatic insulin resistance and severe hepatic steatosis with obesity, independent of diet. DIO caused further deterioration of insulin action in Mc4rKO of either sex and, in male Mc3rKO, compared with controls, associated with increased fasting insulin, severe glucose intolerance, and reduced insulin signaling in muscle and adipose tissue. DIO female Mc3rKO exhibited very modest perturbations in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Consistent with previous data suggesting impaired fat oxidation, both Mc3rKO and Mc4rKO had reduced muscle oxidative metabolism, a risk factor for weight gain and insulin resistance. Energy expenditure was, however, increased in Mc4rKO compared with Mc3rKO and controls, perhaps due to hyperphagia and metabolic costs associated with rapid growth. In summary, DIO affects insulin sensitivity more severely in Mc4rKO compared with Mc3rKO, perhaps due to a more positive energy balance.

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