Downregulation of the Longevity-Associated Protein Sirtuin 1 in Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome: Potential Biochemical Mechanisms

  1. Angelo Avogaro1
  1. 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Metabolic Diseases, University of Padova, Padova, Italy;
  2. 2Department of Information Engineering, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.
  1. Corresponding author: Saula Vigili de Kreutzenberg, saula.dekreutzenberg{at}
  1. S.V.d.K. and G.C. contributed equally to this study.


OBJECTIVE Sirtuins (SIRTs) are NAD+-dependent deacetylases that regulate metabolism and life span. We used peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) to determine ex vivo whether insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome influences SIRTs. We also assessed the potential mechanisms linking metabolic alterations to SIRTs in human monocytes (THP-1) in vitro.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS SIRT1-SIRT7 gene and protein expression was determined in PBMCs of 54 subjects (41 with normal glucose tolerance and 13 with metabolic syndrome). Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the minimal model analysis. Subclinical atherosclerosis was assessed by carotid intima-media thickness (IMT). In THP-1 cells exposed to high glucose or fatty acids in vitro, we explored SIRT1 expression, p53 acetylation, Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) activation, NAD+ levels, and nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) expression. The effects of SIRT1 induction by resveratrol and of SIRT1 gene silencing were also assessed.

RESULTS In vivo, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome were associated with low PBMC SIRT1 gene and protein expression. SIRT1 gene expression was negatively correlated with carotid IMT. In THP-1 cells, high glucose and palmitate reduced SIRT1 and NAMPT expression and reduced the levels of intracellular NAD+ through oxidative stress. No effect was observed in cells exposed to linoleate or insulin. High glucose and palmitate increased p53 acetylation and JNK phosphorylation; these effects were abolished in siRNA SIRT1–treated cells. Glucose- and palmitate-mediated effects on NAMPT and SIRT1 were prevented by resveratrol in vitro.

CONCLUSIONS Insulin resistance and subclinical atherosclerosis are associated with SIRT1 downregulation in monocytes. Glucotoxicity and lypotoxicity play a relevant role in quenching SIRT1 expression.


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    • Received August 10, 2009.
    • Accepted December 21, 2009.

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