This post is a bit rushed so apologies for typos/grammar, but there is a just usable swell and low tide in First Bay is in just over an hour's time so the 'yak is on the car... Just need the Baba to wake up and we're off.
Here are the facts and figures for LIRKO mice from this paper:
OK, they really are slim, they have about 10% less bodyfat than control mice. Here are some of the biochemical details:
The LIRKO mouse has a leptin level which is 10 times that of a control mouse, despite having 10% less bodyfat, that's graph A. Does this mean it's fooling its brain in to thinking it is obese? Probably not, Graph B shows that LIRKO mice have almost infinitely more sOb-R in their blood. This is a binding protein for leptin, bound leptin is biologically inactive. In graph C we can see that free leptin per unit fat mass is actually very low.
Graphs D, E and F show hat happens when you infuse leptin or saline intravenously for 30 minutes. Note the log scales. Graph D shows it is possible to get leptin to equally astronomical levels in LIRKO or normal mice. Graph E shows that the leptin binding protein, sOb-R, doesn't change in the LIRKO mice but falls non significantly in normal mice on leptin infusion. Graph F shows that the free leptin index goes up significantly more for control mice than for LIRKO mice. ie the control mice should feel less hungry and so eat less
But that's not what happens. Four days of leptin injections drops appetite and weight more in LIRKO mice than in control mice. Despite the appetite suppressing free leptin index being higher in the controls.
This appears to happen because the brain of a LIRKO mouse is more leptin sensitive than that of a control mouse:
SOCS3 mRNA level is something I've not read about but I'm willing to accept that it is a marker of hypothalamic leptin resistance.
Does any of this mean anything? Yes.
The LIRKO mice have no hepatic insulin sensitivity because of a very specific genetic defect which deletes their liver insulin receptors.
The liver does not know this. As far as it is concerned the pancreas is simply not secreting any insulin, ie there is no food being eaten. There may be a ton of glucose floating past but, as far as the liver is concerned, there is none.
Are there any other conditions which mimic this and might also spike sOb-R? The paper cites three. Type 1 diabetes. Here there is a ton of glucose but zero insulin. Total insulin deficiency is "hepatically" indistinguishable from the LIRKO liver not seeing any of the insulin (or glucose) raging through the bloodstream. Low insulin in T1 diabetes. High sOb-R.
Anorexia nervosa produces a genuine combined insulin and caloric deficiency with a high level of sOb-R. Low insulin. High sOb-R.
Ditto a 72 hour fast in men. Low insulin. High sOb-R.
How about ketogenic dieting? Here too there is low insulin. Will blood leptin binding increase? Hypothalmic leptin sensitivity increase? Appetite be normal? While ketogenic dieted mice do not particularly drop their caloric intake they do, like type 1 diabetics, fail to increase their caloric intake to meet on going caloric output (they become warm rather than glycosuric as their caloric "sink")...
Now, where does the letpin binding sOb-R come from? The liver is the source in LIRKO mice. The LIRKO mice have liver cells which are in a starvation situation. They manipulate leptin binding and availability to keep appetite normal.
What controls sOb-R production in normal liver cells?
If you put normal liver cells in a petridish with insulin they reduce production of mRNA for the short leptin receptor gene which produces one of the sOb-Rs. Under zero insulin the mRNA level for the Ob-Ra gene is 5 times higher than under 0.1micromol of insulin. Leptin itself has some suppressive effect, but insulin is the dominant hormone.
This looks very much like the liver has a mechanism for controlling leptin sensitivity.
As a complete aside: The other potential mechanism for the decreased appetite is insulin per se. Now, we are all fully aware that insulin is anorexic agent. All you have to do is inject a little insulin in to your brain and you will decrease your appetite. This is logical, after a meal you have a high insulin level and shouldn't want to eat.
Under fasting conditions you have low insulin levels and should want to eat. It's likely to keep you alive. Simple.
So, to stop people being hungry, all we need is to inject insulin in to their brain. Overweight? There's the queue...
For those of us who wish to lose weight without that intra cerebral injection we could try mainlining insulin. This may or may not suppress appetite. I've never tried it. Certainly none of my hyperglycaemic patients seem hungry when I inject them with insulin by the subcutaneous route. Until their blood glucose level drops below about 6mmol/l that is.
At that point they will eat ANYTHING. And lick the bowl. I'm not sure if they feel guilty afterwards. None of them seem to go and make themselves vomit in private to stay slim. Difficult to hide the evidence in a ward cage!
But the LIRKO mouse, with insulin levels 8-20 times those of a control mouse, never becomes hypoglycaemic. It's ONLY hyperinsulinaemic BECAUSE it can't mop up dietary glucose.
So perhaps we are actually seeing the anorexic effect of insulin in this mouse model. The levels might be high enough. The paper wasn't set up to look at this, but it's an interesting afterthought. Back to leptin.
Finally, how does the hepatic insulin resistance of a LIRKO mouse compare to the hepatic insulin resistance of a sucrose fed mouse?
The sucrose mouse hepatocytes have insulin receptors. They can be made to respond. They prefer not to only because these hepatocytes are utterly stuffed with diet derived calories which they are converting to fat as fast as they can but can't export until insulin levels drop low enough to allow VLDL output. Which doesn't happen. Mmmm, Pâté de foie gras...
They are in a state of hypercaloric stuffedness, they see blood insulin and glucose and just don't want anything to do with either. Do they make a ton soluble of leptin binding receptor, sOb-R? No. In human obesity leptin is high, sOb-R is LOW and hypothalamic leptin resistance high.
Now, really finally, how does the LIRKO mouse type of liver insulin resistance compare to the hepatic insulin resistance of an extreme ketogenic fed mouse? It's exactly the same. Low insulin. So if you fed a LIRKO mouse an extreme ketogenic diet, would you "cure" its diabetes?
If you based the ketogenic diet around butter rather than the almost pure PUFA in Mouse Diet 9F, would you prevent its cirrhosis? The liver is only getting its calories primarily from dietary fat after all.
If you gave some LIRKO mice free choice of macronutrients ratio, would they put themselves on an extreme ketogenic diet to treat their diabetes? Of course they would. They're mice, they're not stupid.
Do I like the LIRKO mouse? Absolutely.
But the FIRKO mouse is even more interesting and paradoxical... Maybe another day.