New Findings on Fat Cell Metabolism Could Lead to New Approaches for Treating Diabetes and Obesity

November 17, 2015

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego report new insights into what nutrients fat cells metabolize to make fatty acids. The findings pave the way for understanding potential irregularities in fat cell metabolism that occur in patients with diabetes and obesity and could lead to new treatments for these conditions. The researchers published their findings online in the Nov. 16 issue of Nature Chemical Biology…. Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Molecular Link between Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Reveals Potential Therapy

Inflammatory molecule LTB4 promotes insulin resistance in obese mice and blocking the LTB4 receptor prevents and reverses type 2 diabetes in this model —

Obesity causes inflammation, which can in turn lead to type 2 diabetes. What isn’t well established is how inflammation causes diabetes — or what we can do to stop it. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that the inflammatory molecule LTB4 promotes insulin resistance, a first step in developing type 2 diabetes. What’s more, the team found that genetically removing the cell receptor that responds to LTB4, or blocking it with a drug, improves insulin sensitivity in obese mice. The study is published Feb. 23 by Nature Medicine. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Jerrold OlefskyStudy senior author Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and associate dean for scientific affairs for the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine.

Read article (UC San Diego only)

New Division Chief and Vice Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Announced July 28, 2014, by Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Dr. Nicholas Webster

Nicholas Webster, PhD

I am pleased to announce that an internal review committee has selected Dr. Nick Webster as the new chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Nai-Wen Chi has been selected to serve as vice chief.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Nick Webster, who accepted the role of interim division chief after I stepped down in 2010. In leading the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism for the past four years, Dr. Webster has done an important service for the division and the department.

Nick Webster, PhD, professor of medicine, is Associate Director for Shared Resources at the Moores Cancer Center and holds a joint appointment as a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He is a highly respected researcher and thought leader in the field of endocrinology and metabolism.

Dr. Webster earned his B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University and his Ph.D. from Stanford University.  After a post-doctoral fellowship at the CNRS in Strasbourg, France, he joined the UCSD faculty in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1989 and was promoted to Professor in 2006.

Dr. Webster has been very active in service to the University and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS).  He has held a number of leadership positions at UCSD, including Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Facilities in the Office of Research Affairs, where his portfolio included oversight of the animal welfare program and university-wide shared resources.  Dr. Webster has served as chair of a number of university committees, including the Radiation Safety and Surveillance Committee, the Animal Program Oversight Committee, the Recruitment and Admission Committee for the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, the Shared Resources Oversight Committee, and the Research Space Committees at the VASDHS.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Webster has maintained an active research program, which is broadly focused on the mechanisms of hormonal signal transduction and gene regulation in different developmental and disease contexts.  He actively participates in the Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine, the Diabetes Research Center, and the Center for Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer.

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

Nai-Wen Chi, MD, PhD

The newly appointed vice chair of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Nai-Wen Chi, is a researcher and board-certified endocrinologist at the UCSD Medical Center and the VA. Dr. Chi earned his M.D. from National Taiwan University prior to receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he was mentored by Dr. Richard Kolodner in investigating the molecular machinery that maintains the yeast mitochondrial genome.  Dr. Chi then completed his medical residency and endocrine fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  During his postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, he was mentored by Dr. Harvey Lodish in identifying novel insulin-signaling molecules that regulate vesicular trafficking.

Dr. Chi joined the UCSD faculty in 2000 and has been the director of the Endocrine Fellowship since 2005.  His clinical interest focuses on dysnatremias while his research program takes biochemical and genetic approaches to investigate the pathophysiology of diabetes and obesity.

Please join me in giving your enthusiastic support to Drs. Nick Webster and Nai-Wen Chi in their new positions of leadership in the Department of Medicine.

Single Dose Reverses Autism-like Symptoms in Mice

Old drug used for sleeping sickness may point to new treatment in humans

In a further test of a novel theory that suggests autism is the consequence of abnormal cell communication, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that an almost century-old drug approved for treating sleeping sickness also restores normal cellular signaling in a mouse model of autism, reversing symptoms of the neurological disorder in animals that were the human biological age equivalent of 30 years old. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

How DNA Damage Affects Golgi – The Cell’s Shipping Department

In studying the impact of DNA damage on the Golgi, a research team from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research have discovered a novel pathway activated by DNA damage, with important consequences for the body’s cellular response to chemotherapy. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Dr. Seth FieldStudy principal investigator Seth J. Field, MD, PhD, is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Visit Dr. Field’s Laboratory Website

Citation for the study report in Cell: Suzette E. Farber-Katz, Holly C. Dippold, Matthew D. Buschman, Marshall C. Peterman, Mengke Xing, Christopher J. Noakes, John Tat, Michelle M. Ng, Juliati Rahajeng, David M. Cowan, Greg J. Fuchs, Huilin Zhou, Seth J. Field, DNA Damage Triggers Golgi Dispersal via DNA-PK and GOLPH3, Cell, Volume 156, Issue 3, 30 January 2014, Pages 413-427, ISSN 0092-8674. Summary | Full text (UCSD only)

Urine Biomarkers Reveal Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Diabetic Kidney Disease

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified 13 metabolites – small molecules produced by cellular metabolism – that are significantly different in patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease compared to healthy controls. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHA First author Kumar Sharma, MD, FAHA, is professor of medicine and director of the Center for Renal Translational Medicine in the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension.

Citation for the study report:

Metabolomics Reveals Signature of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Diabetic Kidney Disease. Kumar Sharma, Bethany Karl, Anna V. Mathew, Jon A. Gangoiti, Christina L. Wassel, Rintaro Saito, Minya Pu, Shoba Sharma, Young-Hyun You, Lin Wang, Maggie Diamond-Stanic, Maja T. Lindenmeyer, Carol Forsblom, Wei Wu, Joachim H. Ix, Trey Ideker, Jeffrey B. Kopp, Sanjay K. Nigam, Clemens D. Cohen, Per-Henrik Groop, Bruce A. Barshop, Loki Natarajan, William L. Nyhan, and Robert K. Naviaux JASN ASN.2013020126; published ahead of print October 10, 2013, doi:10.1681/ASN.2013020126  |  Full text (UCSD only)

Related UC San Diego news stories:

Potential Nutritional Therapy for Childhood Neurodegenerative Disease

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified the gene mutation responsible for a particularly severe form of pontocerebellar hypoplasia, a currently incurable neurodegenerative disease affecting children. Based on results in cultured cells, they are hopeful that a nutritional supplement may one day be able to prevent or reverse the condition…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, is a coauthor of the study. He is professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor in the departments of pediatrics and pathology.

Naviaux leads a medical genetics research laboratory whose two major areas of study are the mitochondrial mechanisms of disease and development and evolutionary systems biology and marine metagenomics. He is founder and co-director of the UC San Diego Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center.

Citation for the report:  Naiara Akizu, Vincent Cantagrel, Jana Schroth, Na Cai, Keith Vaux, Douglas McCloskey, Robert K. Naviaux, Jeremy Van Vleet, Ali G. Fenstermaker, Jennifer L. Silhavy, Judith S. Scheliga, Keiko Toyama, Hiroko Morisaki, Fatma M. Sonmez, Figen Celep, Azza Oraby, Maha S. Zaki, Raidah Al-Baradie, Eissa A. Faqeih, Mohammed A.M. Saleh, Emily Spencer, Rasim Ozgur Rosti, Eric Scott, Elizabeth Nickerson, Stacey Gabriel, Takayuki Morisaki, Edward W. Holmes, Joseph G. Gleeson. AMPD2 Regulates GTP Synthesis and Is Mutated in a Potentially Treatable Neurodegenerative Brainstem Disorder. Cell, Volume 154, Issue 3, 1 August 2013, Pages 505–517 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2013.07.005  Read the report

Related Stories:

Drug Treatment Corrects Autism Symptoms in Mouse Model – March 14, 2013

$5.9 Million Grant to UC San Diego for Paradigm-Shifting Diabetes Research – October 3, 2011

Drug Treatment Corrects Autism Symptoms in Mouse Model

An old drug gives hope for new treatment in autism

Autism results from abnormal cell communication. Testing a new theory, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have used a newly discovered function of an old drug to restore cell communications in a mouse model of autism, reversing symptoms of the devastating disorder.

The findings are published in the March 13, 2013 issue of the journal PLOS ONE. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


First author of the study report is Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Genetics and professor in the departments of pediatrics and pathology.

Naviaux leads a medical genetics research laboratory whose two major areas of study are the mitochondrial mechanisms of disease and development and evolutionary systems biology and marine metagenomics. He is founder and co-director of the UC San Diego Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center.

Naviaux earned his MD and PhD degrees at the Indiana University School of Medicine and received his advanced training in virology and molecular biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. There, in the laboratory of Dr. Inder Verma, he conducted investigations in gene therapy and retrovirus biology.

Other Department of Medicine authors of the report are Laura L. Dugan, MD, who is chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Larry L. Hillblom Chair in Geriatric Medicine; research associates Lin Wang and Qingbo Tang; and Mihael Rogac.

Citation for the report:  Naviaux RK, Zolkipli Z, Wang L, Nakayama T, Naviaux JC, et al. (2013) Antipurinergic Therapy Corrects the Autism-Like Features in the Poly(IC) Mouse Model. PLoS ONE 8(3): e57380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057380  |  Read the report

Four Common Antipsychotic Drugs Found to Lack Safety and Effectiveness in Older Adults

In older adults, antipsychotic drugs are commonly prescribed off-label for a number of disorders outside of their Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved indications – schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The largest number of antipsychotic prescriptions in older adults is for behavioral disturbances associated with dementia, some of which carry FDA warnings on prescription information for these drugs.

In a new study – led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Stanford University and the University of Iowa, and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health – four of the antipsychotics most commonly prescribed off label for use in patients over 40 were found to lack both safety and effectiveness. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Department of Medicine endocrinology and metabolism researchers Robert R. Henry, MD, and Sunder Mudaliar, MD, are coinvestigators in the study of the antipsychotic drugs.Dr. Robert R. Henry

Robert R. Henry, MD, is professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism at UC San Diego. At the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS), he is Chief of the Section of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Diabetes and Director of the Center for Metabolic Research.

Sunder Mudaliar, MD, is health sciences clinical professor in the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism at UCSD. He is extensively involved in medical teaching and clinical care at the VASDHS. As an investigator in the Center for Metabolic Research, he performs clinical research focused on the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

More information:

Citation for the study report: Jin H, Shih PB,Golshan S, Mudaliar S, Henry R, Glorioso DK, Arndt S, Kraemer HC, Jeste DV. Comparison of Longer-Term Safety and Effectiveness of 4 Atypical Antipsychotics in Patients Over Age 40: A Trial Using Equipoise-Stratified Randomization. E-pub ahead of print, November 27, 2012, The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Type 1 Diabetes

 

A study led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found a correlation between vitamin D3 serum levels and subsequent incidence of Type 1 diabetes.  The six-year study of blood levels of nearly 2,000 individuals suggests a preventive role for vitamin D3 in this disease.  The research appears the December issue of Diabetologia, a publication of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Heather Hofflich, DOHeather Hofflich, DO, Health Sciences associate clinical professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine, is a coauthor of the report.

Citation for the report: Gorham ED, Garland CF, Burgi AA, Mohr SB, Zeng K, Hofflich H, Kim JJ, Ricordi C. Lower prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration is associated with higher risk of insulin-requiring diabetes: a nested case–control study. Diabetologia 2012; 55:3224–3227. DOI: 10.1007/s00125-012-2709-8. Epub 2012 Sep 7. PMID:22955995.