Upregulated TGF-β1 contributes to hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetes by potentiating glucagon signalling

Yang Xiao, Yanfei Wang, Jiyoon Ryu, Wei Liu, Hailan Zou, Rong Zhang, Yin Yan, Zhe Dai, Deling Zhang, Lu Zhe Sun, Feng Liu, Zhiguang Zhou, Lily Q. Dong

Producción científica: Articlerevisión exhaustiva

5 Citas (Scopus)


Aims/hypothesis: Glucagon-stimulated hepatic gluconeogenesis contributes to endogenous glucose production during fasting. Recent studies suggest that TGF-β is able to promote hepatic gluconeogenesis in mice. However, the physiological relevance of serum TGF-β levels to human glucose metabolism and the mechanism by which TGF-β enhances gluconeogenesis remain largely unknown. As enhanced gluconeogenesis is a signature feature of type 2 diabetes, elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying TGF-β-promoted hepatic gluconeogenesis would allow us to better understand the process of normal glucose production and the pathophysiology of this process in type 2 diabetes. This study aimed to investigate the contribution of upregulated TGF-β1 in human type 2 diabetes and the molecular mechanism underlying the action of TGF-β1 in glucose metabolism. Methods: Serum levels of TGF-β1 were measured by ELISA in 74 control participants with normal glucose tolerance and 75 participants with type 2 diabetes. Human liver tissue was collected from participants without obesity and with or without type 2 diabetes for the measurement of TGF-β1 and glucagon signalling. To investigate the role of Smad3, a key signalling molecule downstream of the TGF-β1 receptor, in mediating the effect of TGF-β1 on glucagon signalling, we generated Smad3 knockout mice. Glucose levels in Smad3 knockout mice were measured during prolonged fasting and a glucagon tolerance test. Mouse primary hepatocytes were isolated from Smad3 knockout and wild-type (WT) mice to investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms. Smad3 phosphorylation was detected by western blotting, levels of cAMP were detected by ELISA and levels of protein kinase A (PKA)/cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation were detected by western blotting. The dissociation of PKA subunits was measured by immunoprecipitation. Results: We observed higher levels of serum TGF-β1 in participants without obesity and with type 2 diabetes than in healthy control participants, which was positively correlated with HbA1c and fasting blood glucose levels. In addition, hyperactivation of the CREB and Smad3 signalling pathways was observed in the liver of participants with type 2 diabetes. Treating WT mouse primary hepatocytes with TGF-β1 greatly potentiated glucagon-stimulated PKA/CREB phosphorylation and hepatic gluconeogenesis. Mechanistically, TGF-β1 treatment induced the binding of Smad3 to the regulatory subunit of PKA (PKA-R), which prevented the association of PKA-R with the catalytic subunit of PKA (PKA-C) and led to the potentiation of glucagon-stimulated PKA signalling and gluconeogenesis. Conclusions/interpretation: The hepatic TGF-β1/Smad3 pathway sensitises the effect of glucagon/PKA signalling on gluconeogenesis and synergistically promotes hepatic glucose production. Reducing serum levels of TGF-β1 and/or preventing hyperactivation of TGF-β1 signalling could be a novel approach for alleviating hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetes. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Idioma originalEnglish (US)
Páginas (desde-hasta)1142-1155
Número de páginas14
EstadoPublished - jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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