Glucagon-receptor signaling reverses hepatic steatosis independent of leptin receptor expression

Academic Article


  • Glucagon (GCG) is an essential regulator of glucose and lipid metabolism that also promotes weight loss. We have shown that glucagon-receptor (GCGR) signaling increases fatty acid oxidation (FAOx) in primary hepatocytes and reduces liver triglycerides in diet-induced obese (DIO) mice; however, the mechanisms underlying this aspect of GCG biology remains unclear. Investigation of hepatic GCGR targets elucidated a potent and previously unknown induction of leptin receptor (Lepr) expression. Liver leptin signaling is known to increase FAOx and decrease liver triglycerides, similar to glucagon action. Therefore, we hypothesized that glucagon increases hepatic LEPR, which is necessary for glucagon-mediated reversal of hepatic steatosis. Eight-week-old control and liver-specific LEPR-deficient mice (LeprΔliver) were placed on a high-fat diet for 12 weeks and then treated with a selective GCGR agonist (IUB288) for 14 days. Liver triglycerides and gene expression were assessed in liver tissue homogenates. Administration of IUB288 in both lean and DIO mice increased hepatic Lepr isoforms a-e in acute (4 hours) and chronic (72 hours,16 days) (P < 0.05) settings. LeprΔliver mice displayed increased hepatic triglycerides on a chow diet alone (P < 0.05), which persisted in a DIO state (P < 0.001), with no differences in body weight or composition. Surprisingly, chronic administration of IUB288 in DIO control and LeprΔliver mice reduced liver triglycerides regardless of genotype (P < 0.05). Together, these data suggest that GCGR activation induces hepatic Lepr expression and, although hepatic glucagon and leptin signaling have similar liver lipid targets, these appear to be 2 distinct pathways.
  • Published In

  • Endocrinology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Nason SR; Kim T; Antipenko JP; Finan B; DiMarchi R; Hunter CS; Habegger KM
  • Volume

  • 161
  • Issue

  • 1