For examining whether dissipating excess energy in the liver is a possible therapeutic approach to high-fat diet-induced metabolic disorders, uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) was expressed in murine liver using adenoviral vectors in mice with high-fat diet-induced diabetes and obesity, and in standard diet-fed lean mice. Once diabetes with obesity developed, hepatic UCP1 expression increased energy expenditure, decreased body weight, and reduced fat in the liver and adipose tissues, resulting in markedly improved insulin resistance and, thus, diabetes and dyslipidemia. Decreased expressions of enzymes for lipid synthesis and glucose production and activation of AMP-activated kinase in the liver seem to contribute to these improvements. Hepatic UCP1 expression also reversed high-fat diet-induced hyperphagia and hypothalamic leptin resistance, as well as insulin resistance in muscle. In contrast, intriguingly, in standard diet-fed lean mice, hepatic UCP1 expression did not significantly affect energy expenditure or hepatic ATP contents. Furthermore, no alterations in blood glucose levels, body weight, or adiposity were observed. These findings suggest that ectopic UCP1 in the liver dissipates surplus energy without affecting required energy and exerts minimal metabolic effects in lean mice. Thus, enhanced UCP expression in the liver is a new potential therapeutic target for the metabolic syndrome.
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