Role of pregnane X receptor in obesity and glucose homeostasis in male mice [Metabolism]

December 20th, 2013 by Spruiell, K., Richardson, R. M., Cullen, J. M., Awumey, E. M., Gonzalez, F. J., Gyamfi, M. A.

Clinical obesity is a complex metabolic disorder affecting 1 in 3 adults. Recent reports suggest that pregnane X receptor (PXR), a xenobiotic nuclear receptor important for defense against toxic agents and for eliminating drugs and other xenobiotics, may be involved in obesity. Noting differences in ligand specificities between human and mouse PXRs, the role of PXR in high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity was examined using male PXR-humanized (hPXR) transgenic and PXR-knockout (PXR-KO) mice in comparison to wild-type (WT) mice. After 16 weeks on either a control diet or HFD, WT mice showed greater weight gain, while PXR-KO mice gained less weight due to their resistance to HFD-induced decreases in adipose tissue peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α and induction of hepatic carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1, suggesting increased energy metabolism. Interestingly, control-fed PXR-KO mice exhibited hepatomegaly, hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia, but hypoadiponectinemia and lower adiponectin receptor R2 mRNA levels relative to WT mice. Evaluation of these biologic indicators in hPXR mice fed a control diet or HFD revealed further differences between the mouse and human receptors. Importantly, while HFD-fed hPXR mice were resistant to HFD-induced obesity, both PXR-KO and hPXR mice exhibited impaired induction of glucokinase involved in glucose utilization and displayed elevated fasting glucose levels and severely impaired glucose tolerance. Moreover, the basal hepatic levels of the gluconeogenic enzyme phosphoenoylpyruvate carboxykinase 1 were increased in hPXR mice, compared with WT mice. Altogether, while the mouse PXR promotes HFD-induced obesity, the hPXR mouse carries a genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes and thus provides a model for exploring the role of human PXR in the metabolic syndrome.