Theses Doctoral

Toward a Mechanistic Understanding of Hepatic Insulin Action and Resistance

Cook, Joshua Robert

The development of insulin resistance (IR) in the liver is one of the key pathophysiologic events in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, but most patients do not become uniformly resistant to the hepatic actions of insulin. Although insulin loses its ability to blunt glucose production, it largely retains its capacity to drive lipogenesis. This "selective IR" results in the characteristic hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia of type 2 diabetes. In this thesis, we take two approaches to better understand the mechanisms underlying selective IR. First, the compensatory chronic hyperinsulinemia (CHI) of insulin resistance downregulates levels of the insulin receptor (InsR). We have therefore modeled CHI in primary hepatocytes to demonstrate that the reduction in InsR number results in insufficient signaling capacity to halt glucose production while still leaving enough residual signaling capacity to promote lipogenesis. That is, the two processes are inherently differentially sensitive to insulin. Second, we hypothesize that FoxO1, a key insulin-inhibited transcription factor, coordinately regulates both hepatic glucose and lipid homeostasis. We have developed a transgenic mouse model heterozygous for a knocked-in allele of DNA binding-deficient FoxO1 and have proceeded to dissect the mechanisms by which FoxO1 differentially regulates glucose and lipid handling. We found that while the former requires FoxO1 to bind to its consensus sequences in target-gene promoters, the latter proceeds via a co-regulatory action of FoxO1. Taken together, these findings reveal novel connections between the glucose and lipid "arms" of the insulin-signaling pathway and how they may go awry in the run-up to diabetes.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine
Thesis Advisors
Accili, Domenico
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 3, 2014