Rho-kinase/AMPK axis regulates hepatic lipogenesis during overnutrition

Hu Huang, Seung Hwan Lee, Inês Sousa-Lima, Sang Soo Kim, Won Min Hwang, Yossi Dagon, Won Mo Yang, Sungman Cho, Min Cheol Kang, Ji A Seo, Munehiko Shibata, Hyunsoo Cho, Getachew Debas Belew, Jinhyuk Bhin, Bhavna N. Desai, Min Jeong Ryu, Minho Shong, Peixin Li, Hua Meng, Byung Hong ChungDaehee Hwang, Min Seon Kim, Kyong Soo Park, Maria Paula Macedo, Morris White, John Jones, Young Bum Kim

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8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Obesity is a major risk factor for developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is the most common form of chronic liver disease and is closely associated with insulin resistance, ultimately leading to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. However, knowledge of the intracellular regulators of obesity-linked fatty liver disease remains incomplete. Here we showed that hepatic Rho-kinase 1 (ROCK1) drives obesity-induced steatosis in mice through stimulation of de novo lipogenesis. Mice lacking ROCK1 in the liver were resistant to diet-induced obesity owing to increased energy expenditure and thermogenic gene expression. Constitutive expression of hepatic ROCK1 was sufficient to promote adiposity, insulin resistance, and hepatic lipid accumulation in mice fed a high-fat diet. Correspondingly, liver-specific ROCK1 deletion prevented the development of severe hepatic steatosis and reduced hyperglycemia in obese diabetic (ob/ob) mice. Of pathophysiological significance, hepatic ROCK1 was markedly upregulated in humans with fatty liver disease and correlated with risk factors clustering around NAFLD and insulin resistance. Mechanistically, we found that hepatic ROCK1 suppresses AMPK activity and a ROCK1/AMPK pathway is necessary to mediate cannabinoid-induced lipogenesis in the liver. Furthermore, treatment with metformin, the most widely used antidiabetes drug, reduced hepatic lipid accumulation by inactivating ROCK1, resulting in activation of AMPK downstream signaling. Taken together, our findings establish a ROCK1/AMPK signaling axis that regulates de novo lipogenesis, providing a unique target for treating obesity-related metabolic disorders such as NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5335-5350
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Volume128
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Huang, H., Lee, S. H., Sousa-Lima, I., Kim, S. S., Hwang, W. M., Dagon, Y., Yang, W. M., Cho, S., Kang, M. C., Seo, J. A., Shibata, M., Cho, H., Belew, G. D., Bhin, J., Desai, B. N., Ryu, M. J., Shong, M., Li, P., Meng, H., ... Kim, Y. B. (2018). Rho-kinase/AMPK axis regulates hepatic lipogenesis during overnutrition. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 128(12), 5335-5350. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI63562