Increased levels of serum branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) is associated with obesity, insulin resistance (IR), and type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, the mechanisms that trigger perturbations in BCAA homeostasis, and whether elevated BCAA causes obesity and other metabolic impairments or is a consequence of them is not clear. Young knock-in mice bearing the human T2D-linked R1788W variant in the cytoskeletal protein ankyrin-B (AnkB) show normal body weight and composition. These mice display increased glucose uptake by white adipose tissue (WAT) due to deficient internalization of the glucose transporter GLUT4. We reported that sustained elevation in glucose disposal in WAT leads to the onset of increased adiposity, lipotoxicity, systemic inflammation, and IR in AnkB mutant mice with age or in young animals fed Western diets. Non-obese R1788W AnkB mice also exhibit transcriptional changes consistent with lower BCAA catabolism in WAT. Here, we show that AnkB deficits impair BCAA catabolism in WAT prior to the onset of obesity. Lean R1788W AnkB mice show reduction in surface levels of the BCAA transporter Asct2 and BCAA uptake together with downregulation of BCAA catabolic enzymes in WAT. These deficits are concomitant with elevations in serum levels of BCAA and related acylcarnitines. Reduced expression of BCAA catabolic enzymes was also observed in WAT of lean WAT-specific AnkB KO mice. In contrast, AnkB deficiency did not alter BCAA oxidation in skeletal muscle (SKM), brown adipose tissue, or liver. Studies in control and R1788W AnkB mice fed isocaloric low and high fat (HFD) diets enriched in BCAA suggest that BCAA elevation triggers mitochondrial dysfunction, impairments in insulin secretion by the pancreas and in insulin signaling in SKM. Our data indicates that elevated circulating BCAA impair glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity independently of obesity, and that these deleterious effects are potentiated by HFD.


J. Tzeng: None. A. Aguillard: None. D. Lorenzo: None.


American Diabetes Association (1-19-JDF-081 to D.L.)

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