Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to confirm a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and type 2 diabetes.
Materials and methods: Cellular levels of mitochondrial proteins, cellular mitochondrial DNA content, and mitochondrial function and morphology were assessed by MitoTracker staining and electron microscopy, in white adipose tissue of 12-week-old male wild-type, obese (ob/ob), and diabetic (db/db) mice.
Results: Levels of mitochondrial proteins were found to be very similar in the livers and muscles of all the mice studied. However, levels were greatly decreased in the adipocytes of db/db mice, but not in those of the wild-type and ob/ob mice. Levels of mitochondrial DNA were also found to be considerably reduced in the adipocytes of db/db mice. MitoTracker staining and under electron microscopy revealed that the number of mitochondria was reduced in adipocytes of db/db mice. Respiration and fatty acid oxidation studies indicated mitochondrial dysfunction in adipocytes of db/db mice. Interestingly, there was an increase in mitochondria and mitochondrial protein production in adipocytes of db/db mice treated with rosiglitazone, an agent that enhances insulin sensitivity.
Conclusions/interpretation: Taken together, these data indicate that mitochondrial loss in adipose tissue is correlated with the development of type 2 diabetes.