Key metabolic hormones, such as insulin, leptin, and adiponectin, have been studied extensively in obesity, however the pathophysiologic relevance of the calcitonin family of peptides remains unclear. This family includes calcitonin (CT), its precursor procalcitonin (PCT), and alpha calcitonin-gene related peptide (aCGRP), which are all encoded by the gene Calca. Here, we studied the role of Calca-derived peptides in diet-induced obesity (DIO) by challenging Calcr-/- (encoding the calcitonin receptor, CTR), Calca-/-, and aCGRP-/- mice and their respective littermates with high-fat diet (HFD) feeding for 16 weeks. HFD-induced pathologies were assessed by glucose tolerance, plasma cytokine and lipid markers, expression studies and histology. We found that DIO in mice lacking the CTR resulted in impaired glucose tolerance, features of enhanced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and adipose tissue inflammation compared to wildtype littermates. Furthermore, CTR-deficient mice were characterized by dyslipidemia and elevated HDL levels. In contrast, mice lacking Calca were protected from DIO, NASH and adipose tissue inflammation, and displayed improved glucose tolerance. Mice exclusively lacking aCGRP displayed a significantly less improved DIO phenotype compared to Calca-deficient mice. In summary, we demonstrate that the CT/CTR axis is involved in regulating plasma cholesterol levels while Calca, presumably through PCT, seems to have a detrimental effect in the context of metabolic disease. Our study provides the first comparative analyses of the roles of Calca-derived peptides and the CTR in metabolic disease.
Bartelt, A., Jeschke, A., Müller, B., Gaziano, I., Morales, M., Yorgan, T., … Keller, J. (2017). Differential effects of Calca-derived peptides in male mice with diet-induced obesity. PLoS ONE, 12(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180547