The Randle cycle, which has been invoked to explain the reciprocal relationship between fatty acid oxidation and glucose oxidation, has long been implicated as a potential mechanism for hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Now genetic, functional genomic, and transgenic approaches have identified PPARγ coactivators (PGC-1α and PGC-1β) as key regulators of mitochondrial number and function. They regulate adaptive thermogenesis as well as glucose and fat oxidation in muscle and fat tissue, gluconeogenesis in liver, and even glucose-regulated insulin secretion in β cells. PGC-1α and PGC-1β mRNA levels and the mitochondrial genes they regulate are decreased in muscle of people with prediabetes and T2DM. A new report indicates that PGC-1α and PGC-1β mRNA levels decrease with age in individuals with a genetic variant in PGC-1α, and these decreases correlate with alterations in whole-body glucose and fatty acid oxidation. These findings provide insights into how aging modifies genetic susceptibility to alterations in oxidative phosphorylation and T2DM.
Alan R. Shuldiner, John C. McLenithan