This paper is very interesting. I think I picked it up via Raphi on twitter. It comes from Jim Johnson's lab.
Caloric Restriction Paradoxically Increases Adiposity in Mice With Genetically Reduced Insulin
The background is in these two papers:
Phenotypic alterations in insulin-deficient mutant mice
Compensatory Responses in Mice Carrying a Null Mutation for Ins1 or Ins2
The paradoxical mice all had the Ins2 gene fully knocked out and in addition to this some mice also had one allele for the Ins1 gene knocked out (Ins1+/-). So the mice in the study had either a half or a quarter of the normal mouse insulin gene complement. Some mice were fed ad-lib, some were 40% calorie restricted (CR).
The CR, lowest insulin gene group (Ins1+/-) had significantly elevated total fat mass and a significantly elevated percentage of bodyweight as fat. That's a paradox to the insulin hypothesis of obesity and so really interesting. The Ins1+/+ group also had a (ns) increase in percentage body fat but not in absolute fat mass, so the trend is there too, but only a trend.
Metabolically, the split is between ad-lib vs CR groups.
All mice had the same maximal insulin response to a 2g/kg intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test but the CR groups had a very significantly reduced peak and AUC for glucose, ie they were much more insulin sensitive. The intra-peritoneal insulin tolerance test result might be worth a post in its own right, it's paradoxical too but there won't be space to cover it today.
So let's have a look at energy expenditure (EE) from Fig3 C.
To make things a bit clearer I've copy pasted the light period from the left half of the graph on to the end of the dark period to give more of an idea of the EE curves are really like during dark to light transition:
The red line starts horizontally with no significant difference in EE between ad-lib fed mice or CR mice. There is a modest increase during the dark (active) period when the CR mice get their three very small meals, as indicated. After the last meal a precipitous and highly significant fall in EE occurs. The mice enter torpor, a state of extreme lassitude and hypothermia. At around two hours in to the next light period the mice wake up and EE returns to just below that of the ad-lib mice and the cycle repeats. The ad-lib mice behave like normal mice.
The CR mice have a profound hypometabolic period every day. You could argue, if you are a cico-tard, that this is why they store excess fat. They eat all the food they can get but expend relatively little energy so they become fat: CICO. But I would disagree.
Here's my guess as to what is happening. Speculation warning.
We know that the CR mice are exquisitely insulin sensitive. They are that way because they have a low number of insulin genes and they never get enough food to trigger a major insulin spike anyway. The CR is the dominant factor but it needs the genetic background to get the paradox to occur. Insulin-induced insulin resistance, acute or chronic, does not occur due to lifetime low insulin exposure. The fact that all mice are capable of producing the same maximal insulin response to an IPGTT does not mean that the CR group experience an equivalent insulin exposure to the ad-lib group during their routine lives. They never get enough food to trigger a maximal insulin response.
The CR mice spent the bulk of the light period with a slightly low EE. Dark period arrives and with it food. As the food is eaten there is an upward trend in EE followed by a drop. The second small meal arrives, again an upswing followed by a drop. The third and final meal gives the same upswing but the drop in EE which follows just goes on downward. The mice enter torpor, a state of profound lassitude and hypothermia.
I think torpor happens because the mice simply have no accessible calories.
This is despite the fact that it occurs immediately after the third of their calorie restricted meals. Their problem is that the meals generate an insulin response. The mice are so insulin sensitive that calories are lost in to adipocytes (and probably hepatocytes) under the over-effective action of insulin.
They lose calories in to adipocytes. These are calories out. The adipocytes get bigger with the lost fat.
Torpor occurs BECAUSE the mice have become fatter.
This is the equivalent of the hunger which follows for a human under a euglycaemic (or even hyperglycaemic) hyperinsulinaemic clamp. There is no hypoglycaemia but fatty acids become locked in to adipocytes by the hyperisulinaemia and hunger follows due a lack of available calories. I posted about it here.
At two hours in to the light period insulin drops low enough to allow lipolysis. The mice wake up.
Except: Why do the CR mice have paradoxically (although ns) elevated fasting insulin cf the ad lib mice? There are two reasons. Here are the blood sample times added to the EE graph. The arrows are not quite in the correct clock times, as detailed in the methods, but the times related to feeding/metabolism are approximately correct.
The green arrow is the sampling time for the ad-lib fed mice. It is about six hours in to the light period and the mice would normally have been asleep during the hours leading up to it. Light-period snacking, from the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) graph in Fig3 D, would not normally have started by this time so it's a very simple physiological fasting sample.
The blue arrow for the fasting CR mice just hits the end of torpor. I'm not sure these mice ever have a time when they wouldn't eat, given the chance, but here they are in their hypometabolic phase and have minimal access to calories. At this time insulin is actually a little (ns) higher than for the ad-lib groups (Fig1 D). Higher insulin means fat stays in adipocytes. Why is insulin high?
Calorie restriction does many things in addition to dropping metabolic rate. If you fast a hard working group of humans for 5 days they develop a post prandial increase in GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic hormone). This was found in the CR mice in both the fasting and fed state (Fig4 C). GIP facilitates insulin release, hence insulin is a little higher the CR mice and loss of calories in to adipocytes more severe, necessitating torpor.
It's interesting as to why GIP might be elevated under hunger conditions. Possibly generating and saving fat becomes a priority when calories are low. The Ins1+/- CR mice certainly have the highest RER (>1.05) after their third meal, suggesting that they prioritise the conversion of glucose to fat. This DNL, should it occur in the liver, might go some way to explaining the elevated triglycerides in both of the CR groups. Maybe. Accentuated DNL in people who have undergone massive weight loss via gastric bypass surgery is routine during an OGTT. Like these people.
Anyway, I'll stop now. This post is about 1/4 the length it started out as, so if corners seem a bit cut then mea culpa.