School of Chinese Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong.
Background: Activation of the thermogenic program in white and brown adipocytes presents a promising avenue for increasing energy expenditure during the treatment of obesity. The endogenous mechanism for promoting thermogenesis in brown adipocytes or browning in white adipocytes has indicated that the gut microbiota is a crucial regulator of the host energy balance. However, whether the effects of the therapeutic intervention-induced modulation of the gut microbiota on adipocyte browning involved the regulation of leptin remains unclear.
Method: The adipose features were analyzed by body composition analysis, infrared camera observations, transmission electron microscopy and H&E staining. The gene and protein expression in adipose tissue were detected by qRT-PCR, immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence staining. The gut microbiome signature was identified by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, and both mice with high-fat diet-induced obesity (DIO) and mice with antibiotics-induced microbiome depletion were subjected to fecal microbiota transplantation.
Results: Treatment with Panax notoginseng saponins (PNS) shaped the murine gut microbiome by increasing the abundances of Akkermansia muciniphila and Parabacteroides distasonis, and as a result, DIO mice harbored a distal gut microbiota with a significantly increased capacity to reduce host adiposity. The PNS-induced modulation of the gut microbiota in DIO mice could increase brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis and beige adipocyte reconstruction by activating the leptin-AMPK/STAT3 signaling pathway, which results in the promotion of energy expenditure. Leptin has an essential influence on the anti-obesity effects of PNS. In cases of leptin deficiency, the PNS-induced modulation of the gut microbiota exerts negative effects on thermogenesis and browning in white adipose tissue (WAT), which indicates that PNS fail to reduce obesity in leptin gene-deficient mice. The PNS-induced modulation of the gut microbiota exerted a minimal effect on DIO mice with antibiotic-induced microbiome depletion, which confirmed the correlation between altered gut microbiota and the remodeling of adipose tissues in DIO mice. The direct influence of leptin on browning via the AMPKα/STAT3 signaling pathway in C3H101/2 cells supported our in vivo results that signalling through the leptin-AMPK/STAT3 pathway induced by the PNS-modulated gut microbiota was involved in beige adipocyte reconstruction.
Conclusion: Our results revealed that leptin signaling is critical for alterations in microbiota-fat crosstalk and provide promising avenues for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of obesity.
Keywords: Gut microbiota, Obesity, White adipocyte, Beige cell, Leptin