Hepatic stearoyl CoA desaturase 1 deficiency increases glucose uptake in adipose tissue partially through the PGC-1α-FGF21 axis in mice

J Biol Chem. 2019 Dec 20;294(51):19475-19485. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.009868. Epub 2019 Nov 5.


Increased carbohydrate consumption increases hepatic de novo lipogenesis, which has been linked to the development of chronic metabolic diseases, including obesity, hepatic steatosis, and insulin resistance. Stearoyl CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1) is a critical lipogenic enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of two monounsaturated fatty acids, oleate and palmitoleate, from the saturated fatty acids stearate and palmitate, respectively. SCD1-deficient mouse models are protected against diet-induced adiposity, hepatic steatosis, and hyperglycemia. However, the mechanism of this protection by SCD1 deficiency is unclear. Using liver-specific SCD1 knockout (LKO) mice fed a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, we show that hepatic SCD1 deficiency increases systemic glucose uptake. Hepatic SCD1 deficiency enhanced glucose transporter type 1 (GLUT1) expression in the liver and also up-regulated GLUT4 and adiponectin expression in adipose tissue. The enhanced glucose uptake correlated with increased liver expression and elevated plasma levels of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), a hepatokine known to increase systemic insulin sensitivity and regulate whole-body lipid metabolism. Feeding LKO mice a triolein-supplemented but not tristearin-supplemented high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet reduced FGF21 expression and plasma levels. Consistently, SCD1 inhibition in primary hepatocytes induced FGF21 expression, which was repressed by treatment with oleate but not palmitoleate. Moreover, deletion of the transcriptional coactivator PPARγ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) reduced hepatic and plasma FGF21 and white adipocyte tissue-specific GLUT4 expression and raised plasma glucose levels in LKO mice. These results suggest that hepatic oleate regulates glucose uptake in adipose tissue either directly or partially by modulating the hepatic PGC-1α-FGF21 axis.

Keywords: adiponectin; carbohydrate metabolism; fibroblast growth factor (FGF); glucose metabolism; glucose transport; glucose transporters; heptokine-FGF21; insulin sensitivity; lipid metabolism; lipid signaling; liver; liver metabolism; liver–adipocyte cross-talk; monounsaturated fatty acids; obesity; stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Diet
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipogenesis
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Oleic Acid / pharmacology
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha / metabolism*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / genetics*
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / metabolism


  • Adiponectin
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Insulin
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Ppargc1a protein, mouse
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Oleic Acid
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Scd1 protein, mouse
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase
  • Glucose