OBJECTIVE-Excess tissue iron levels are a risk factor for diabetes, but the mechanisms underlying the association are incompletely understood. We previously published that mice and humans with a form of hereditary iron overload, hemochromatosis, exhibit loss of-cell mass. This effect by itself is not sufficient, however, to fully explain the diabetes risk phenotype associated with all forms of iron overload. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS-We therefore examined glucose and fatty acid metabolism and hepatic glucose production in vivo and in vitro in a mouse model of hemochromatosis in which the gene most often mutated in the human disease, HFE, has been deleted (Hfe-/-). RESULTS-Although Hfe-/- mice exhibit increased glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, glucose oxidation is decreased and the ratio of fatty acid to glucose oxidation is increased. On a high-fat diet, the Hfe-/- mice exhibit increased fatty acid oxidation and are hypermetabolic. The decreased glucose oxidation in skeletal muscle is due to decreased pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) enzyme activity related, in turn, to increased expression of PDH kinase 4 (pdk4). Increased substrate recycling to liver contributes to elevated hepatic glucose production in the Hfe-/- mice. CONCLUSIONS-Increased hepatic glucose production and metabolic inflexibility, both of which are characteristics of type 2 diabetes, may contribute to the risk of diabetes with excessive tissue iron.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism