New roles for prokineticin 2 in feeding behavior, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes: Studies in mice and humans

Mol Metab. 2019 Nov;29:182-196. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2019.08.016. Epub 2019 Aug 28.


Objective: Prokineticin 2 (PROK2) is a hypothalamic neuropeptide that plays a critical role in the rhythmicity of physiological functions and inhibits food intake. PROK2 is also expressed in the main olfactory bulb (MOB) as an essential factor for neuro-and morphogenesis. Since the MOB was shown to be strongly involved in eating behavior, we hypothesized that PROK2 could be a new target in the regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis, through its effects in the MOB. We also asked whether PROK2 could be associated with the pathophysiology of obesity, the metabolic syndrome (MetS), and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in humans.

Methods: We assessed in wild type mice whether the expression of Prok2 in the MOB is dependent on the nutritional status. We measured the effect of human recombinant PROK2 (rPROK2) acute injection in the MOB on food intake and olfactory behavior. Then, using a lentivirus expressing Prok2-shRNA, we studied the effects of Prok2 underexpression in the MOB on feeding behavior and glucose metabolism. Metabolic parameters and meal pattern were determined using calorimetric cages. In vivo 2-deoxyglucose uptake measurements were performed in mice after intraperitoneally insulin injection. Plasmatic PROK2 dosages and genetic associations studies were carried out respectively on 148 and more than 4000 participants from the D.E.S.I.R. (Data from an Epidemiologic Study on the Insulin Resistance Syndrome) cohort.

Results: Our findings showed that fasting in mice reduced Prok2 expression in the MOB. Acute injection of rPROK2 in the MOB significantly decreased food intake whereas Prok2-shRNA injection resulted in a higher dietary consumption characterized by increased feeding frequency and decreased meal size. Additionally, Prok2 underexpression in the MOB induced insulin resistance compared to scrambled shRNA-injected mice. In the human D.E.S.I.R. cohort, we found a significantly lower mean concentration of plasma PROK2 in people with T2D than in those with normoglycemia. Interestingly, this decrease was no longer significant when adjusted for Body Mass Index (BMI) or calorie intake, suggesting that the association between plasma PROK2 and diabetes is mediated, at least partly, by BMI and feeding behavior in humans. Moreover, common Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in PROK2 gene were genotyped and associated with incident T2D or impaired fasting glycemia (IFG), MetS, and obesity.

Conclusions: Our data highlight PROK2 as a new target in the MOB that links olfaction with eating behavior and energy homeostasis. In humans, plasma PROK2 is negatively correlated with T2D, BMI, and energy intake, and PROK2 genetic variants are associated with incident hyperglycemia (T2D/IFG), the MetS and obesity.

Keywords: Food intake; Insulin resistance; Main olfactory bulb; Meal pattern; Metabolic syndrome; Prokineticin 2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology*
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Feeding Behavior* / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / blood
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropeptides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neuropeptides / blood
  • Neuropeptides / genetics
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology


  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • Neuropeptides
  • PROK2 protein, human
  • Prok2 protein, mouse
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Recombinant Proteins