Modulation of glycosphingolipid metabolism significantly improves hepatic insulin sensitivity and reverses hepatic steatosis in mice


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. The hyperinsulinemia that occurs as a consequence of insulin resistance is thought to be an important contributor to the development of fatty liver. We have shown that the iminosugar N-(5'-adamantane-1'-yl-methoxy)-pentyl-1-deoxynojirimycin (AMP-DNM), an inhibitor of the enzyme glucosylceramide synthase, is a potent enhancer of insulin signaling in rodent models for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The present study was designed to assess the impact of AMP-DNM on insulin levels, liver triglyceride synthesis, and gene expression profile. Treatment of ob/ob mice with AMP-DNM restored insulin signaling in the liver, corrected blood glucose values to levels found in lean mice, and decreased insulin concentration. The expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c target genes involved in fatty acid synthesis normalized. AMP-DNM treatment significantly reduced liver to body weight ratio and reversed hepatic steatosis, comprising fat as well as inflammatory markers. In addition, AMP-DNM treatment corrected to a large extent the gene expression profile of ob/ob mice livers toward the profile of lean mice. Conclusion: Pharmacological lowering of glycosphingolipids with the iminosugar AMP-DNM is a promising approach to restore insulin signaling and improve glucose homeostasis as well as hepatic steatosis. (HEPATOLOGY 2009.)