Aims/hypothesis: Resistin and the resistin-like molecules (RELMs) comprise a novel class of cysteine-rich proteins. Among the RELMs, RELMbeta and RELMgamma are produced in non-adipocyte tissues, but the regulation of their expression and their physiological roles are largely unknown. We investigated in mice the tissue distribution and dimer formation of RELMbeta and RELMgamma and then examined whether their serum concentrations and tissue expression levels are related to insulin resistance.
Methods: Specific antibodies against RELMbeta and RELMgamma were generated. Dimer formation was examined using COS cells and the colon. RELMbeta and RELMgamma tissue localisation and expression levels were analysed by an RNase protection assay, immunoblotting and immunohistochemical study. Serum concentrations in high-fat-fed and db/db mice were also measured using the specific antibodies.
Results: The intestinal tract produces RELMbeta and RELMgamma, and colonic epithelial cells in particular express both RELMbeta and RELMgamma. In addition, RELMbeta and RELMgamma were shown to form a homodimer and a heterodimer with each other, in an overexpression system using cultured cells, and in mouse colon and serum. Serum RELMbeta and RELMgamma levels in high-fat-fed mice were markedly higher than those in mice fed normal chow. Serum RELMbeta and RELMgamma concentrations were also clearly higher in db/db mice than in lean littermates. Tissue expression levels revealed that elevated serum concentrations of RELMbeta and RELMgamma are attributable to increased production in the colon and bone marrow.
Conclusions/interpretation: RELMbeta and RELMgamma form homo/heterodimers, which are secreted into the circulation. Serum concentrations of RELMbeta and RELMgamma may be a novel intestinal-tract-mediating regulator of insulin sensitivity, possibly involved in insulin resistance induced by obesity and a high-fat diet.