Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has become an expanding global public health problem. Although the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) is an important regulator of glucose metabolism, the relationship between circulating glucocorticoids (GCs) and the features of T2DM remains controversial. Here, we show that 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP), an intermediate steroid in the biosynthetic pathway that converts cholesterol to cortisol, binds to and stimulates the transcriptional activity of GR. Hepatic 17-OHP concentrations are increased in diabetic mice and patients due to aberrantly increased expression of Cyp17A1. Systemic administration of 17-OHP or overexpression of Cyp17A1 in the livers of lean mice promoted the pathogenesis of hyperglycemia and insulin resistance, whereas knockdown of Cyp17A1 abrogated metabolic disorders in obese mice. Therefore, our results identify a Cyp17A1/17-OHP/GR–dependent pathway in the liver that mediates obesity-induced hyperglycemia, suggesting that selectively targeting hepatic Cyp17A1 may provide a therapeutic avenue for treating T2DM.
Yan Lu, E Wang, Ying Chen, Bing Zhou, Jiejie Zhao, Liping Xiang, Yiling Qian, Jingjing Jiang, Lin Zhao, Xuelian Xiong, Zhiqiang Lu, Duojiao Wu, Bin Liu, Jing Yan, Rong Zhang, Huijie Zhang, Cheng Hu, Xiaoying Li