Sortilin deficiency improves the metabolic phenotype and reduces hepatic steatosis of mice subjected to diet-induced obesity

Liane Rabinowich, Sigal Fishman, Einav Hubel, Tamar Thurm, Woo Jae Park, Yael Pewzner-Jung, Ashish Saroha, Noam Erez, Zamir Halpern, Anthony H. Futerman, Isabel Zvibel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Results Sortilin-/- mice gained less body weight and less visceral fat, despite similar food intake compared to WT type mice and had enhanced glucose uptake in insulin tolerance tests, which was further corroborated by enhanced hepatic pAkt expression. Sortilin deficiency led to attenuated hepatic steatosis, reduced expression of genes involved in lipogenesis, ceramide synthesis and inflammatory cytokine production and reduced activity of ceramide synthase 5/6 (CerS5/6). Sortilin-/- mice had reduced hepatic aSMase activity under both steady-state and DIO. Likewise, sortilin-/- hepatocytes displayed hypersensitivity to insulin, due to enhanced insulin receptor downstream signalling. In adipose tissue, sortilin-/- mice exhibited lower expression of inflammatory cytokines and lower expression and activity of CerS5/6. As in liver, adipose tissue displayed increased insulin signalling, accompanied by attenuated aSMase activity.

Conclusions Sortilin deficiency induces a beneficial metabolic phenotype in liver and adipose tissue upon DIO, mediated in part by reduced aSMase activity.

Background & Aims Sortilin traffics newly synthesized molecules from the trans-Golgi apparatus along secretory pathways to endosomes, lysosomes or to the cell surface. Sortilin trafficking of acid sphingomyelinase (aSMase) may regulate ceramide levels, a major modulator of insulin signalling. We therefore tested whether sortilin deficiency reduces hepatic and adipose tissue aSMase activity, improving insulin sensitivity in diet-induced obesity (DIO).

Methods DIO in C57BL/6 (WT) and sortilin-/- mice was induced by high-fat diet feeding for 10 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


FundersFunder number
Weizmann Institute
Israel Science Foundation881/09


    • Acid sphingomyelinase
    • Ceramide synthesis
    • Hepatic steatosis
    • Insulin resistance
    • Sortilin


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