Protective roles of adiponectin and molecular signatures of HNF4α and PPARα as downstream targets of adiponectin in pancreatic β cells

Toshiharu Onodera, Dae Seok Kim, Risheng Ye, May Yun Wang, Shiuhwei Chen, Bianca C. Field, Leon Straub, Xue Nan Sun, Chao Li, Charlotte Lee, Megan Paredes, Clair Crewe, Shangang Zhao, Christine M. Kusminski, Ruth Gordillo, Philipp E. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The disease progression of the metabolic syndrome is associated with prolonged hyperlipidemia and insulin resistance, eventually giving rise to impaired insulin secretion, often concomitant with hypoadiponectinemia. As an adipose tissue derived hormone, adiponectin is beneficial for insulin secretion and β cell health and differentiation. However, the down-stream pathway of adiponectin in the pancreatic islets has not been studied extensively. Here, along with the overall reduction of endocrine pancreatic function in islets from adiponectin KO mice, we examine PPARα and HNF4α as additional down-regulated transcription factors during a prolonged metabolic challenge. To elucidate the function of β cell-specific PPARα and HNF4α expression, we developed doxycycline inducible pancreatic β cell-specific PPARα (β-PPARα) and HNF4α (β-HNF4α) overexpression mice. β-PPARα mice exhibited improved protection from lipotoxicity, but elevated β-oxidative damage in the islets, and also displayed lowered phospholipid levels and impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. β-HNF4α mice showed a more severe phenotype when compared to β-PPARα mice, characterized by lower body weight, small islet mass and impaired insulin secretion. RNA-sequencing of the islets of these models highlights overlapping yet unique roles of β-PPARα and β-HNF4α. Given that β-HNF4α potently induces PPARα expression, we define a novel adiponectin-HNF4α-PPARα cascade. We further analyzed downstream genes consistently regulated by this axis. Among them, the islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) gene is an important target and accumulates in adiponectin KO mice. We propose a new mechanism of IAPP aggregation in type 2 diabetes through reduced adiponectin action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101821
JournalMolecular Metabolism
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Adiponectin
  • HNF4α
  • PPARα
  • β cell


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