Dual Role of Insulin in Spexin Regulation: Functional Link Between Food Intake and Spexin Expression in a Fish Model

Endocrinology. 2017 Mar 1;158(3):560-577. doi: 10.1210/en.2016-1534.


Spexin (SPX), a neuropeptide discovered by the bioinformatics approach, has been recently identified as a satiety factor in a fish model. However, the functional link between feeding and SPX expression as well as the signal transduction for SPX regulation are totally unknown. In this study, we used goldfish as a model to examine the functional role of insulin as a postprandial signal for SPX regulation in bony fish. In goldfish, feeding could elevate plasma levels of glucose, insulin, and SPX with concurrent rises in insulin and SPX messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in the liver. Similar elevation in SPX mRNA level was also observed in the liver and brain areas involved in appetite control in goldfish after intraperitoneal injection of glucose and insulin, respectively. In parallel experiments with goldfish hepatocytes and brain cell culture, insulin signal induced by glucose was shown to exert a dual role in SPX regulation, namely (1) acting as an autocrine/paracrine signal to trigger SPX mRNA expression in the liver and (2) serving as an endocrine signal to induce SPX gene expression in the brain. Apparently, the peripheral (in the liver) and central actions of insulin (in the brain) on SPX gene expression were mediated by insulin receptor (to a lesser extent by insulin-like growth factor I receptor) coupled to mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 3/6/p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin but not mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 cascades. Our findings indicate that an insulin component inducible by glucose is present in the liver of the fish model and may serve as the postprandial signal linking food intake with SPX expression both in the central as well as at the hepatic level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Female
  • Goldfish
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Male
  • Peptide Hormones / metabolism*


  • Insulin
  • Peptide Hormones