Fetuin-null mice are protected against obesity and insulin resistance associated with aging

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Nov 17;350(2):437-43. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.09.071. Epub 2006 Sep 25.


alpha2-HS glycoprotein (AHSG), also known as fetuin-A, inhibits insulin receptor autophosphorylation and tyrosine kinase activity in vitro and in vivo. Earlier we have shown that fetuin-null (KO) mice demonstrate improved insulin sensitivity and resistance to diet-induced obesity. Since aging is associated with insulin resistance and impaired glucose handling, we tested the hypothesis that fetuin-null (KO) mice are resilient to changes in insulin sensitivity associated with aging. Aged (80-week-old) fetuin-null mice were leaner and demonstrated significantly lower body weights compared to age- and sex-matched wild-type (WT) littermates. Leanness in aged fetuin KO mice was accompanied by a significant increase in dark-onset energy expenditure, without marked alteration of respiratory quotient. In comparison to WT mice, fetuin KO mice demonstrated a lower fasting insulin resistance index, and significantly lower blood glucose and insulin levels, following a 4h fast. Interestingly, despite significantly decreased insulin levels during a glucose tolerance test, aged fetuin-null mice demonstrated a similar glucose excursion as WT mice, indicative of improved insulin sensitivity. Analysis of aldehyde-fuchsin stained pancreas from aged fetuin KO mice indicated no difference in islet beta-cell size or number. An insulin tolerance test confirmed the increased insulin sensitivity of aged fetuin KO mice. Further, compared to WT mice, aged fetuin-null mice demonstrated increased skeletal muscle and liver IR autophosphorylation and TK activity. Taken together, this study suggests that the absence of fetuin may contribute to the improvement of insulin sensitivity associated with aging.

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Proteins / genetics*
  • Body Weight
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism
  • alpha-2-HS-Glycoprotein


  • Ahsg protein, mouse
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Proteins
  • Insulin
  • alpha-2-HS-Glycoprotein
  • Receptor, Insulin