Inhibition of Lipolysis Ameliorates Diabetic Phenotype in a Mouse Model of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2016 Aug;55(2):299-307. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2015-0315OC.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and type 2 diabetes. Causal mechanisms mediating this association are not well defined; however, augmented lipolysis in adipose might be involved. Here, we investigated the effect of acipimox treatment (lipolysis inhibitor) on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in mice exposed to intermittent hypoxia (IH). C57BL6/J mice were exposed for 14 days to IH or control conditions. IH was created by decreasing the fraction of inspired oxygen from 20.9 to 6.5%, 60 times/h. Control exposure was air (fraction of inspired oxygen, 20.9%) delivered at an identical flow rate. Acipimox was provided in drinking water (0.5 g/ml) during exposures. After exposures, intraperitoneal insulin (0.5 IU/kg) and glucose (1 g/kg) tolerance tests were performed, and primary adipocytes were isolated for lipolysis experiments. IH elevated fasting glucose by 51% and worsened glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity by 33 and 102%, respectively. In parallel, IH increased spontaneous lipolysis by 264%, and reduced epididymal fat mass by 15% and adipocyte size by 8%. Acipimox treatment prevented IH-induced lipolysis and increased epididymal fat mass and adipocyte size by 19 and 10%, respectively. Acipimox fully prevented IH-induced impairments in fasting glycemia, glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity. For all reported results, P less than 0.05 was considered significant. Augmented lipolysis contributes to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance observed in mice exposed to IH. Acipimox treatment ameliorated the metabolic consequences of IH and might represent a novel treatment option for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

Keywords: diabetes; insulin resistance; intermittent hypoxia; lipolysis; obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / pathology
  • Adiposity / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Lipolysis* / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phenotype
  • Pyrazines / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / blood
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / genetics
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / pathology*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Insulin
  • Pyrazines
  • Glucose
  • acipimox