Obesity is associated with the development of vascular insulin resistance; however, pathophysiological mechanisms are poorly understood. We sought to investigate the role of WNT5A-JNK in the regulation of insulin-mediated vasodilator responses in human adipose tissue arterioles prone to endothelial dysfunction. In 43 severely obese (BMI 44±11 kg/m2) and five metabolically normal non-obese (BMI 26±2 kg/m2) subjects, we isolated arterioles from subcutaneous and visceral fat during planned surgeries. Using videomicroscopy, we examined insulin-mediated, endothelium-dependent vasodilator responses and characterized adipose tissue gene and protein expression using real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analyses. Immunofluorescence was used to quantify endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) phosphorylation. Insulin-mediated vasodilation was markedly impaired in visceral compared to subcutaneous vessels from obese subjects (p<0.001), but preserved in non-obese individuals. Visceral adiposity was associated with increased JNK activation and elevated expression of WNT5A and its non-canonical receptors, which correlated negatively with insulin signaling. Pharmacological JNK antagonism with SP600125 markedly improved insulin-mediated vasodilation by sixfold (p<0.001), while endothelial cells exposed to recombinant WNT5A developed insulin resistance and impaired eNOS phosphorylation (p<0.05). We observed profound vascular insulin resistance in the visceral adipose tissue arterioles of obese subjects that was associated with up-regulated WNT5A-JNK signaling and impaired endothelial eNOS activation. Pharmacological JNK antagonism markedly improved vascular endothelial function, and may represent a potential therapeutic target in obesity-related vascular disease.
Keywords: endothelium; insulin resistance; nitric oxide; obesity.
© The Author(s) 2016.