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Plasma mitochondrial derived peptides MOTS-c and SHLP2 positively associate with android and liver fat in people without diabetes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kieren Hollingsworth


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© 2021 Elsevier B.V.Mitochondrial-derived peptides (MDPs) are encoded by the mitochondrial genome and hypothesised to form part of a retrograde signalling network that modulates adaptive responses to metabolic stress. To understand how metabolic stress regulates MDPs in humans we assessed the association between circulating MOTS-c and SHLP2 and components of metabolic syndrome (MS), as well as depot-specific fat mass in participants without overt type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. One-hundred and twenty-five Chinese participants (91 male, 34 female) had anthropometry, whole body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans and fasted blood samples analysed. Chinese female participants and an additional 34 European Caucasian female participants also underwent magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy (MRI/S) for visceral, pancreatic and liver fat quantification. In Chinese participants (age = 41 ± 1 years, BMI = 27.8 ± 3.9 kg/m2), plasma MOTS-c (315 ± 27 pg/ml) and SHLP2 (1393 ± 82 pg/ml) were elevated in those with MS (n = 26). While multiple components of the MS sequelae positively associated with both MOTS-c and SHLP2, including blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose and triglycerides, the most significant of these was waist circumference (p < 0.0001). Android fat had a greater effect on increasing plasma MOTS-c (p < 0.004) and SHLP2 (p < 0.009) relative to whole body fat. Associations with MRI/S parameters corrected for total body fat mass revealed that liver fat positively associated with plasma MOTS-c and SHLP2 and visceral fat with SHLP2. Consistent with hepatic stress being a driver of circulating MDP concentrations, plasma MOTS-c and SHLP2 were higher in participants with elevated liver damage markers and in male C57Bl/6j mice fed a diet that induces hepatic lipid accumulation and damage. Our findings provide evidence that in the absence of overt type 2 diabetes, components of the MS positively associated with levels of MOTS-c and SHLP2 and that android fat, in particular liver fat, is a primary driver of these associations. MOTS-c and SHLP2 have previously been shown to have cyto- and metabolo-protective properties, therefore we suggest that liver stress may be a mitochondrial peptide signal, and that mitochondrial peptides are part of a hepatic centric-hormetic response intended to restore metabolic balance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sequeira IR, Woodhead JST, Chan A, D'Souza RF, Wan J, Hollingsworth KG, Plank LD, Cohen P, Poppitt SD, Merry TL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects

Year: 2021

Volume: 1865

Issue: 11

Print publication date: 01/11/2021

Online publication date: 20/08/2021

Acceptance date: 17/08/2021

ISSN (print): 0304-4165

ISSN (electronic): 1872-8006

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2021.129991


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