OUR PUBLICATIONS

 

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

Endocrinology (2021)

PATHOPHYSIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS THAT ALTER THE AUTONOMIC BRAIN-LIVER COMMUNICATION IN METABOLIC DISEASES

Anisia Silva & Alexandre Caron


The brain influences liver metabolism through many neuroendocrine and autonomic mechanisms that have evolved to protect the organism against starvation and hypoglycemia. Unfortunately, what is normally an effective way to prevent death has become dysregulated in modern obesogenic environments, but the pathophysiological mechanisms behind metabolic dyshomeostasis are still unclear. In this Mini-Review, we provide our thoughts regarding obesity and type 2 diabetes as diseases of the autonomic nervous system. We discuss the pathophysiological mechanisms that alter the autonomic brain-liver communication in these diseases, and how they could represent important targets to prevent or treat metabolic dysfunctions. We discuss how sympathetic hyperactivity to the liver may represent an early event in the progression of metabolic diseases and could progressively lead to hepatic neuropathy. We hope that this discussion will inspire and help framing a model on the importance of better understanding the chronology of autonomic dysfunctions in the liver in order to apply the right strategy at the right time.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (2021)

NEW HORIZONS: IS OBESITY A DISORDER OF NEUROTRANSMISSION?

Alexandre Caron & Natalie J. Michael

Obesity is a disease of the nervous system. While some will view this statement as provocative, others will take it as obvious. Whatever our side is, the pharmacology tells us that targeting the nervous system works for promoting weight loss. It works, but at what cost? Is the nervous system a safe target for sustainable treatment of obesity? What have we learned—and unlearned—about the central control of energy balance in the last few years? Herein we provide a thought-provoking exploration of obesity as a disorder of neurotransmission. We discuss the state of knowledge on the brain pathways regulating energy homeostasis that are commonly targeted in anti-obesity therapy and explore how medications affecting neurotransmission such as atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines relate to body weight. Our goal is to provide the endocrine community with a conceptual framework that will help expending our understanding of the pathophysiology of obesity, a disease of the nervous system.

Molecular Metabolism (2019)

ADIPOCYTE GS BUT NOT GI SIGNALING REGULATES WHOLE-BODY GLUCOSE HOMEOSTASIS.

Alexandre Caron, Ryan P. Reynolds, Carlos C. Castorena, Natalie J. Michael, Charlotte C. Lee, Syann Lee, Rebecca Berdeaux, Philipp E. Scherer & Joel K. Elmquist

Objective: The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is a key regulator of the metabolic and endocrine functions of adipose tissue. Increased SNS outflow promotes fat mobilization, stimulates non-shivering thermogenesis, promotes browning, and inhibits leptin production. Most of these effects are attributed to norepinephrine activation of the Gs-coupled beta adrenergic receptors located on the surface of the adipocytes. Evidence suggests that other adrenergic receptor subtypes, including the Gi-coupled alpha 2 adrenergic receptors might also mediate the SNS effects on adipose tissue. However, the impact of acute stimulation of adipocyte Gs and Gi has never been reported.

Methods: We harness the power of chemogenetics to develop unique mouse models allowing the specific and spatiotemporal stimulation of adipose tissue Gi and Gs signaling. We evaluated the impact of chemogenetic stimulation of these pathways on glucose homeostasis, lipolysis, leptin production, and gene expression.

Results: Stimulation of Gs signaling in adipocytes induced rapid and sustained hypoglycemia. These hypoglycemic effects were secondary to increased insulin release, likely consequent to increased lipolysis. Notably, we also observed differences in gene regulation and ex vivo lipolysis in different adipose depots. In contrast, acute stimulation of Gi signaling in adipose tissue did not affect glucose metabolism or lipolysis, but regulated leptin production.

Conclusion: Our data highlight the significance of adipose Gs signaling in regulating systemic glucose homeostasis. We also found previously unappreciated heterogeneity across adipose depots following acute stimulation. Together, these results highlight the complex interactions of GPCR signaling in adipose tissue and demonstrate the usefulness of chemogenetic technology to better understand adipocyte function.

Nature Reviews Neuroscience (2018)

LEPTIN AND BRAIN–ADIPOSE CROSSTALKS

Alexandre Caron, Syann Lee, Joel K. Elmquist & Laurent Gautron 


Interactions between the brain and distinct adipose depots have a key role in maintaining energy balance, thereby promoting survival in response to metabolic challenges such as cold exposure and starvation. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the specific central neuronal circuits that regulate adipose depots. Here, we review anatomical, genetic and pharmacological studies on the neural regulation of adipose function, including lipolysis, non-shivering thermogenesis, browning and leptin secretion. In particular, we emphasize the role of leptin-sensitive neurons and the sympathetic nervous system in modulating the activity of brown, white and beige adipose tissues. We provide an overview of advances in the understanding of the heterogeneity of the brain regulation of adipose tissues and offer a perspective on the challenges and paradoxes that the community is facing regarding the actions of leptin on this system.

eLife (2018)

POMC NEURONS EXPRESSING LEPTIN RECEPTORS COORDINATE METABOLIC RESPONSES TO FASTING VIA SUPPRESSION OF LEPTIN LEVELS

Alexandre Caron,  Heather M. Dungan Lemko,  Carlos M. Castorena,  Teppei Fujikawa,  Syann Lee,  Caleb C. Lord,  Newaz Ahmed,  Charlotte E. Lee,  William L. Holland,  Chen Liu & Joel K. Elmquist 

Leptin is critical for energy balance, glucose homeostasis, and for metabolic and neuroendocrine adaptations to starvation. A prevalent model predicts that leptin's actions are mediated through pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons that express leptin receptors (LEPRs). However, previous studies have used prenatal genetic manipulations, which may be subject to developmental compensation. Here, we tested the direct contribution of POMC neurons expressing LEPRs in regulating energy balance, glucose homeostasis and leptin secretion during fasting using a spatiotemporally controlled Lepr expression mouse model. We report a dissociation between leptin's effects on glucose homeostasis versus energy balance in POMC neurons. We show that these neurons are dispensable for regulating food intake, but are required for coordinating hepatic glucose production and for the fasting-induced fall in leptin levels, independent of changes in fat mass. We also identify a role for sympathetic nervous system regulation of the inhibitory adrenergic receptor (ADRA2A) in regulating leptin production. Collectively, our findings highlight a previously unrecognized role of POMC neurons in regulating leptin levels.

Physiological Reviews (2018)

DEPTOR AT THE NEXUS OF CANCER, METABOLISM, AND IMMUNITY

Alexandre Caron , David M. Briscoe, Denis Richard & Mathieu Laplante

DEP domain-containing mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR)-interacting protein (DEPTOR) is an important modulator of mTOR, a kinase at the center of two important protein complexes named mTORC1 and mTORC2. These highly studied complexes play essential roles in regulating growth, metabolism, and immunity in response to mitogens, nutrients, and cytokines. Defects in mTOR signaling have been associated with the development of many diseases, including cancer and diabetes, and approaches aiming at modulating mTOR activity are envisioned as an attractive strategy to improve human health. DEPTOR interaction with mTOR represses its kinase activity and rewires the mTOR signaling pathway. Over the last years, several studies have revealed key roles for DEPTOR in numerous biological and pathological processes. Here, we provide the current state of the knowledge regarding the cellular and physiological functions of DEPTOR by focusing on its impact on the mTOR pathway and its role in promoting health and disease.