Metabolic Endotoxemia Initiates Obesity and Insulin Resistance

Diabetes and obesity are two metabolic diseases characterized by insulin resistance and a low-grade inflammation.Seeking an inflammatory factor causative of the onset of insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes, we have identified bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as a triggering factor.We found that normal endotoxemia increased or decreased during the fed or fasted state, respectively, on a nutritional basis and that a 4-week high-fat diet chronically increased plasma LPS concentration two to three times, a threshold that we have defined as metabolic endotoxemia. Importantly, a high-fat diet increased the proportion of an LPS-containing microbiota in the gut. When metabolic endotoxemia was induced for 4 weeks in mice through continuous subcutaneous infusion of LPS, fasted glycemia and insulinemia and whole-body, liver, and adipose tissue weight gain were increased to a similar extent as in high-fat–fed mice. In addition, adipose tissue F4/80-positivecells and markers of inflammation, and liver triglyceride content, were increased. Furthermore, liver, but not whole-body, insulin resistance was detected in LPS-infused mice.CD14 mutant mice resisted most of the LPS and high fat diet induced features of metabolic diseases. This new finding demonstrates that metabolic endotoxemia dysregulates the inflammatory tone and triggers body weight gain and diabetes. We conclude that the LPS/CD14 system sets the tone of insulin sensitivity and the onset of diabetes and obesity. Lowering plasma LPS concentration could be a potent strategy for the control of metabolic diseases.  Diabetes56:1761–1772, 2007

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