NOD1 Activators Link Innate Immunity to Insulin Resistance

  1. Amira Klip1
  1. 1Program in Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Department of Immunology, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Department of Physiology, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Corresponding author: Amira Klip, amira{at}


OBJECTIVE Insulin resistance associates with chronic inflammation, and participatory elements of the immune system are emerging. We hypothesized that bacterial elements acting on distinct intracellular pattern recognition receptors of the innate immune system, such as bacterial peptidoglycan (PGN) acting on nucleotide oligomerization domain (NOD) proteins, contribute to insulin resistance.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Metabolic and inflammatory properties were assessed in wild-type (WT) and NOD1/2−/− double knockout mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 16 weeks. Insulin resistance was measured by hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamps in mice injected with mimetics of meso-diaminopimelic acid–containing PGN or the minimal bioactive PGN motif, which activate NOD1 and NOD2, respectively. Systemic and tissue-specific inflammation was assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in NOD ligand–injected mice. Cytokine secretion, glucose uptake, and insulin signaling were assessed in adipocytes and primary hepatocytes exposed to NOD ligands in vitro.

RESULTS NOD1/2−/− mice were protected from HFD-induced inflammation, lipid accumulation, and peripheral insulin intolerance. Conversely, direct activation of NOD1 protein caused insulin resistance. NOD1 ligands induced peripheral and hepatic insulin resistance within 6 h in WT, but not NOD1−/−, mice. NOD2 ligands only modestly reduced peripheral glucose disposal. NOD1 ligand elicited minor changes in circulating proinflammatory mediators, yet caused adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance of muscle AS160 and liver FOXO1. Ex vivo, NOD1 ligand caused proinflammatory cytokine secretion and impaired insulin-stimulated glucose uptake directly in adipocytes. NOD1 ligand also caused inflammation and insulin resistance directly in primary hepatocytes from WT, but not NOD1−/−, mice.

CONCLUSIONS We identify NOD proteins as innate immune components that are involved in diet-induced inflammation and insulin intolerance. Acute activation of NOD proteins by mimetics of bacterial PGNs causes whole-body insulin resistance, bolstering the concept that innate immune responses to distinctive bacterial cues directly lead to insulin resistance. Hence, NOD1 is a plausible, new link between innate immunity and metabolism.


  • Received January 3, 2011.
  • Accepted May 25, 2011.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See for details.

| Table of Contents

This Article

  1. Diabetes vol. 60 no. 9 2206-2215
  1. Supplementary Data
  2. All Versions of this Article:
    1. db11-0004v1
    2. 60/9/2206 most recent